Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013 Christmas at Connections-entry 5


Hi Friends!

Just reflecting upon the fact that there is so much build up to Christmas...and then in a single day most move on to the pace we call life...someone once said (I'm paraphrasing to the best of my memory) that life is what happens while we're busy making plans how to live.

I'm not ready to say so-long to Christmas this year...when a child is born is when others have the opportunity to enjoy the life conceived...that's my focus in transitioning to the New Year...I want to take the life conceived in Christ with me and enjoy life in Him.

My goals for the church in 2014 center around that journey...they are two-fold with the theme of "Modeling Jesus"...and a song by Stephen Curtis Chapman "Love Take Me Over" serving as the rhythm for our days.

Goal 1: Go Deeper in the Word (allow His love to take us over)
Goal 2: Go Deeper in the World (share His love in the world without becoming worldly)

So in essence I want to continue to Celebrate make a Crescendo for Christ in the New Year...I'm not ready for Christmas to end when the Christ-child was born so I can live each day like Him...what of you?

The lyric video for "Love Take Me Over" is posted below...I hope you will be blessed by watching and listening to Model Jesus I know I must rely much less on me and much more on His Spirit to produce love in and through me.

Will you join me in committing to rely more on Him in 2014?

God's Peace,

Saturday, December 21, 2013

2013 Christmas at Connections-entry 4

Hi Friends!

Christmas week is one of the busiest and most exciting of the year and sometimes I find myself rushing only to realize that I am running after good things instead of the best thing. How about you?

I can't help but wonder if Joseph rushed to Bethlehem with respect to Mary's condition or if he took his time?  I'm thinking he did his best to get there as quickly as possible. What would that look like in the church? the world? if people did their very best to deliver the good news of Jesus in the most timely fashion possible?

I encourage you to measure your steps and check your pace. Are you running after the best thing this Christmas? If so you are sure to find the firstborn Son of God wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

Jesus is still the best thing of all the good things in Christmas so continue to run to Him and share His love with others this Christmas.

Merry Christmas and God's Peace,

Friday, December 13, 2013

2013 Christmas at Connections-entry 3

Hi Friends!
In last week's lesson at Connections Christian Church, I mentioned on a couple of occasions my disdain for the abbreviation "Xmas" in our culture for the word Christmas. I succeeded in making a "crescendo" as it was a topic of discussion after the service, although in reality it was just a minor thought in relation to the Christmas Carol "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," which was our theme for the day. You can research the origin of the abbreviation on several on-line sites for additional information but the section highlighted below is from and I believe accurately reflects the origin and also speaks to my concerns.
First of all, the abbreviation predates by centuries its use in gaudy advertisements. It was first used in the mid 1500s. X is the Greek letter “chi,” the initial letter in the word Χριστός. And here’s the kicker: Χριστός means “Christ.” X has been an acceptable representation of the word “Christ” for hundreds of years. This device is known as a Christogram. The mas in Xmas is the Old English word for “mass.” In the same vein, the dignified terms Xpian and Xtian have been used in place of the word “Christian.”  As lovers of the alphabet, we are transfixed by the flexibility of “X.” The same letter can represent the sacred, the profane (“rated X”), and the unknown (“X-ray“).

So to clarify, I consider it a sacred privilege to have studied Greek (many moons ago) under the late Dr. Donald Nash, a scholar considered by most of his peers to be an authority on the New Testament use of the language, and to actually (with the grace and help of God) have received an "A" for my understanding of the language at that time. That does not make me an expert by a long-shot and admittedly my use of the Greek today is mostly from a Lexicon or Greek Grammar as opposed to my ability to freely translate or otherwise use the language.
That said, my thought is that few people in America are reading Greek today and few people know the origin of the word, and that most advertisers are cutting corners with Christmas to play the game of political correctness. In hindsight, I need to be more careful to represent the truth with greater compassion (not just passion) as my passion in that moment probably outweighed my compassion with respect to seeing the word Christmas spelled out in English in our culture.
To summarize my thoughts...

Jesus Christ came to save us from our sins and I'm a sinner and you are a sinner and everyone born into this world except Jesus Christ is a sinner. And so I am most grateful Jesus Christ was born sinless to God and the Virgin Mary and that He willingly died by crucifixion on the cross of Calvary to pay my sin-debt and yours and arose from the grave to give us eternal life. It gives me great joy to know that Jesus is looking down from the right hand of His Father in heaven and is pleased when ministers of the gospel passionately and compassionately preach "Joy to the World" which is the next carol in our Christmas series.

Forgive me if you must for assuming that while Jesus not only can read the Greek but also authored the language, that while looking down on America in 2013 that He just might prefer His name to be included in full in "Xmas" as the Christ of Christmas. I believe few Americans in the 21st Century know that "X" is Greek for Christ rather than a commercialized substitution for the word Christ in English speaking America. That is my opinion pure and simple and I should have stated it more clearly and much more compassionately as such.
Speaking of JOY...our son gets to come home for Christmas before heading off to a College Bowl Game with Ball State University. We are pumped about seeing our son and I am equally pumped that he recently sent me the link below to increase my JOY! I hope by watching it that it will increase your JOY too and that you will keep "Christ" in the center of your life and your Christmas! As Ravi Zacharias points out in the video clip, I don't really need to worry about God taking care of His name in culture. EnJOY!
God's Peace,

Saturday, December 7, 2013

2013 Christmas at Connections-entry 2

Hi Friends!

We begin our Christmas Series at Connections entitled "Crescendos from Carols" on Sunday December 8, 2013. See the prior blog entry below (November 30, 2013) for an explanation of the theme.

In our first lesson we will look at the word "hark" which means to "pay attention" and the word "hail" which means "to acclaim or acknowledge" and suggest applications of those directives during this Christmas season.

I hope you'll join us as we enjoy some insights from some of the most prolific hymn writers in history. My prayer is that the "Crescendos from Carols" will overflow from your heart into your homes and neighborhoods and around the world!

Luke 2:8-12
New International Version (NIV)
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

God's Peace,