Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What Is Christmas?

Every year it seems that Christmas becomes more and more materialized and les and less like Jesus. I hear people or read signs that say "Jesus is the reason for season." However, it makes me wonder how many people truly believe that. Is that just a catchy phrase to make us sound more spiritual. Don't get me wrong, I am not perfect and sometimes get tangled in our Americanized web of this holiday. I enjoy getting gifts as much as anyone. I enjoy giving them even more, although my wife and I haven't bought a single thing yet this year. If you've read our previous posts you understand how crazy our life can be, hence why no Christmas shopping quite yet, but we'll get there.

Okay back to the purpose of this post. What is Christmas? What is the first thing you think about? Is it Santa? Is it a tree with presents underneath? Is it your children? Or your family? What makes Christmas special to you? You see, all of these things aren't necessarily bad things. It's not wrong to give/receive presents, or to spend time with family and loved ones, or to give your children a sedative so they won't go nuts in anticipation, or even singing cheesy Christmas songs that have no meaning or value whatsoever (sorry, personal soapbox about certain holiday tunes). It's not about an argument over saying "Happy Holidays" as opposed to "Merry Christmas" although I could go off on that topic. Happy Holidays? I mean, really? Say Merry Christmas.

The truth is, Christmas has always been and will always be about one thing. Jesus. The holy, almighty God of creation, who has no beginning and no end, who was and is and is to come; I AM, sent his only Son to earth to fulfill the law, put an end to sin and death, and to become a sacrifice for those who would believe. This holiday is about the advent and descension to earth of the King and Savior of all! My charge to each of you is not just to acknowledge the birth of Christ, but to celebrate and it make it your sole focus. I heard someone say once we need to pray that God would allow us to see the world through new eyes. I think that applies here. We must look at Christmas with new eyes. Parents, read the story of Jesus' birth from the Scriptures and explain what it means. This is truly a celebratory time, but let us not just simply look to the coming of Christ over 2000 years ago, but let us also look to the second coming of the King! Let us prepare Him a way and prepare ourselves so that we are ready upon His return.

My goal here is not to guilt trip people out of having fun. As I said, there's nothing wrong with traditions or spending time with family, eating food (probably too much), exchanging gifts, playing dirty Santa or white elephant games, throwing parties, singing carols, etc. I'm just asking that you not make it the main thing this year. Let all of those things be a side item to the main event. Jesus is not the means to an end, HE IS THE END! Jesus is the reason we should do anything because in our sin, we deserve eternity in hell. However, through the redemptive blood of Christ and the mercy found in His grace, we can live and breathe and worship in everything we do. This year, actually pay attention to the words of the Christmas songs like What Child Is This? and Joy to the World and Silent Night and O Come O Come Emmanuel, Mary Did You Know and so many more that have great meaning. Sure, we celebrate Jesus' birthday and put up little porcelain nativity scenes where all of a sudden Jesus, Mary and Joseph look like they are from L.A. However, we must also celebrate the life we've been given for those who have been called and set free. We must celebrate that we have been adopted as sons and daughters of the Most High God and are an heir to the throne of grace.

I will look at the world with new eyes this year, will you? Will you join me in trying your best to keep Jesus on the forefront of your minds and hearts? Maybe instead of our typical New Year's resolutions like losing weight, saving money, or keeping up better with friends, we'll just start being the church. Let us live our lives with an eternal focus and perspective. Don't limit God. Don't limit yourselves. I pray that Christ will reveal Himself to you all in amazing ways this Christmas. I pray He will show you His plan and equip you with the necessary tools to carry out His perfect and seamless plan. I pray that you and your families will be saturated with the gospel and overwhelmed by the goodness that is in Christ Jesus and that you will tell everyone around you about the hope found in Him. I pray God will mend relationships, tear down barriers, change hearts, transform lives, soften hardened hearts, and bring about laborers into the Harvest. What is Christmas? In a word.....Jesus!

Hayes Party of Two

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Life, Love and Happiness

Yes, yes I know. It has been way too long since my last post. It's funny, I love to write and thought when we started this blog I would be updating it at least a few times a week, but so far is not turned out that way. Oh well, maybe leaving you faithful readers in suspense has an underlying value in itself. Well, to no surprise, we remain crazy busy with life and work and extracurricular activities. I had the opportunity to go to the National Youth Workers Conference in Atlanta, with my friend Travis and the ministry he runs called Pursuit Ministries, which is great by the way. Anyways, thanks to him I was able to get in for free all day on the Friday of the event. It was pretty cool walking around to all these different booths, getting free stuff, talking to people about what they do, and also getting a chance to self promote. It's not something I enjoy doing, but networking and promoting are part of life these days to try and open up new opportunities for worship leading and music and things like that so I made some posters and business cards, brought some CD's and did my thing. Hopefully that will lead to something, but it's in God's hands, not mine. I got a chance to hear Andy Stanley and Francis Chan give two great talks, an awesome worship band, and of course hear Shane and Shane do a late night show (sorry Brittany) which my wife wasn't happy about missing and the fact I was there, but I think she was able to move past it. I do owe her one though.

Thanksgiving was a great time as well. We visited the Housers in Vidalia and the Hayeses in Conyers each for a few days. Good food, great family time and despite the driving, we really enjoyed the time with family and just being away.

For Brittany, she just finished up her last two papers for the semester in Grad School and now has no more assignments until her last semester kicks off in January. I just wanted to take a few moments and explain to you a couple (of the neverending) reasons why this woman is so amazing. There is simply no way I could do anywhere near as much as she does with the excellence and effort that she puts in to it. If you don't believe me, just check out my college transcript, haha. Anyways, Brittany works her tail off teaching 4th and 5th graders every day. Now when I say teach, I don't mean just your common teacher who does what they have to and that's it. My wife is one of the most compassionate, caring, intentional people I have ever met and she loves her kids and wants to not only see them grow academically, but spiritually, emotionally and in any other way possible. She goes far above and beyond the call of duty, doesn't spoon feed her kids so they actually learn something rather than just get good grades. She deals with parents, teachers, students, lesson plans, grading, reading, and so on the list goes. Then, on top of all that, she spends 6 hours in class each week on two nights and does all the work required for her grad school classes and gets A's constantly with maybe a couple of B's scattered in there. She is incredible and has the strength and heart of a lion, but is so humble about it at the same time. I am so grateful to have someone like that in my life to help counteract my pride and laziness I display all to often. She challenges me to be better every single day.

Okay, so I know I've written a lot, but I had to catch you up. The state of Georgia is still making it very difficult for me to be effective in my work for DFCS, but I press on and try to do the best I can. It is good to see the Lord use me and I am certainly grateful just to have a job right now, but I have to admit it is really hard most days to get up and go to a job that I simply do not want to do and know that it is not my calling in life. However, I trust and believe the God of all, the King of kings, Jesus, is working for my good and has an amazing plan for me and is completely sovereign and in control. That allows me to do this as long as necessary and trust in His faithfulness. God continues to show his provision in our lives, his love, his mercy, his faithfulness, his peace, his joy, his patience and really all of his attributes. I serve a God that is jealous for me and longs for me to worship him and bring him glory in every single thing I do. It is my prayer that it would be my undending joy and desire to serve him, to know him, and to live like him every second of every day. sure, I will continue to sin and fall short, but praise be to the one who paid my ransom on the cross. He did it once and will not do it again because his grace is enough and his sacrifice was sufficient for me and now I am a son of God and no longer an enemy. The Savior King has set me free so I will commit my life to knowing him more and following him. I pray that this season we are all reminded that Jesus was sent to us from the Father to fulfill the law and change the world and draw all men to the throne in worship. Glory be to Jesus!