The Perfect Christmas

As a pastor, the Thanksgiving and Christmas season is extremely busy. The planning for special services, benevolence situations, get-togethers, etc., not to mention the normal activities and functions we still must do… they all keep me in high gear. Ask any pastor and they’ll tell you the same, it’s an extremely busy time of year!

I must preface my thoughts by saying I love Christmas! I love the music, decorations, Christmas plays, concerts, but most of all (of course) the reason for it…celebrating God’s incarnation. But oftentimes I have found myself allowing the things of ministry to cause me to miss the beauty of it all…and I hate that.

There is so much pressure to get things done, to make Christmas perfectr7CwvhW. For me, the very busy time begins just before Thanksgiving. Our church sponsors a community Thanksgiving service where we invite people who have no one to eat a Thanksgiving meal with to come and eat with us. This takes much planning and effort to pull off, and lots of folks to help pull it off, but like so many other Holiday functions, it’s worth the effort. It’s always a wonderful time together, and I can’t imagine not doing it every year. But it can be a bit taxing, so I’ve created a tradition to help me unwind a bit.

Each year, immediately after the Thanksgiving meal, I help tidy up, tear down all my turkey frying equipment, pack my vehicle with my suitcase and banjo, and head for the South Carolina State Bluegrass Festival in Myrtle Beach, SC.  Outside of missing just a year here and there, I’ve been attending this Festival since the early 80’s. I continue this tradition to see old friends, listen to God’s music, and of course to relax for a couple of days.

It doesn’t last long, for before you know it Thursday evening, Friday, and Saturday are a memory and I’m on my way back home, getting geared up to preach Sunday morning and hitting the ground running for the Christmas season! And from that moment it never stops…nevertheless it does give me a brief respite between Thanksgiving and Christmas…except this year. Yep…this year would be different.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner and I quickly made my way south to Myrtle Beach and began to enjoy my aforementioned enjoyments, when I felt a funny feeling in my stomach. It wasn’t long before I realized I had picked up a stomach virus of some sort. I endured it Friday but was forced to head back home early on Saturday, and I’m very glad I did…it only got worse. I can endure most of the symptoms of a stomach virus, but the weakness that came with this one really frustrated me!! I mean, I HAVE STUFF TO DO!! But this thing wiped me out. I was pretty much useless. I mean, like a sack of reject hammers useless. So much so that I had to miss preaching Sunday morning…which is one of the worst things for me. I’d rather preach than eat. But I couldn’t help it. I was too sick to do either!

I was pretty frustrated, knowing all the things I needed to be doing, people I needed to be seeing, etc.… but I also know that God is sovereign. There’s a reason for it. I’ve learned over the years, through experience, and immersing myself into God’s word that He is working in every situation. For instance, a verse we all tend to know very well, Romans 8:28 says,

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

This is the word of God. It’s true…it’s alive…it’s active…it’s life changing…and I trust what it says. I know there’s a reason that I came down with a virus and I’m actually thankful to God for it, for His word also says,

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
(Philippians 4:6)

I can thank God for a virus because He has a reason/purpose for it. I certainly cannot imagine the fullness of His plan, but by His grace I can clearly see some evidences of of it. For one, it’s made me slow down and realize the Christmas season will go on with or without me. God doesn’t need me to accomplish His will this season or any other season. He may or may not choose to use me in it, but He certainly doesn’t have to!

While I incredibly missed preaching Sunday, I have enjoyed slowing down and simply thinking about the beauty of Christmas… Jesus came to earth to “tabernacle” among us, live a sinless life, pay the penalty of sin on a cross, died and rose again… this is Christmas! Christmas is not the things we do, it’s what Jesus did.

My encouragement to you is,

Don’t miss the perfect Christmas while trying to make Christmas perfect.

Relax, enjoy, focus on the main thing…Jesus, the Perfect Christmas.

Come, let us adore Him…


Categories: bible, Scripture, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dangerous Theological Assumtions

During my tenure as a pastor/shepherd I’ve seen theological heresies come and go, some causing major strife before they are squelched while others seemingly fizzle before they get started. But it’s been my experience that these heresies, as damaging as they are, have been outdone in a sense by something much more common and ostensibly benign; I call it “common theological assumptions”. It indeed has been my experience that these “assumptions” have caused incredible damage and have been extremely difficult to stamp out.

These theological assumptions take on many forms but are most often manifested in quaint, folksy sayings that have been passed down for generations, sometimes from well-meaning family members or friends who simply want to help. The problem is that these assumptions are just that…assumptions, and have never been substantiated by Scripture! I believe the greatest culprit is this assumption, most often voiced like this, “God has promised that He will never place more on you than you can stand!” We’ve all heard it; some of you have even said it, thinking that it will bring comfort to someone who is in the midst of great difficulties, believing invaluable biblical advice is being offered up. But there’s a massive problem, it’s not found in the Bible!! As a matter of fact, the principle behind that advice is actually foreign to Scripture, even the antithesis of it!

I suppose this thought derived from a verse of Scripture that has nothing to do with trials, but with temptations, No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13, ESV)

This is indeed a wonderful promise, God will never allow you to be tempted more than you can bear, which is a liberating thought… but the subject is “temptation”, not “Trials” or “hard times”! Nowhere in the Bible does God ever promise that He will not place more (difficulties) on us than we can bear! Fact is, time after time in the Bible you see God doing just the opposite; He gives people far more than they can handle, He puts them in proverbial pressure cookers and turns up the heat, sometimes for long periods of time! Why would He do such? So we will trust and rest in Him! We are weak and frail creatures and cannot handle trials on our own…we must depend on and rest in the Almighty God. When we depend on and rest in Him through Christ, He is glorified and we are filled with joy, even in the midst of trials and difficulties! This is God’s plan! He places more on us than we can bear so we will turn to Him as our burden bearer through Christ! So…when we tell someone that “God will never place more on us than we can bear”, we are doing great damage and stealing God’s glory…so don’t do it!! When someone is bearing the overwhelming weight of difficulties, point them to Jesus!! Tell them that He alone can bear their burdens… that way God is glorified and those who turn to Christ are at peace even in the midst of those hard times! That’s God’s plan…

“Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.”

Categories: false assumptions, false doctrine, heresies,, Scripture | 1 Comment

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