Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

I had the unique experience this past Sunday of being the pastor of a small church’s Children’s Christmas Pageant. We celebrated the birth of Christ and the worship of the angels, the shepherds, and the wise men of Emmanuel (God With Us).

Christmas has become a time of celebrations and parties. Recently I had some time to “kill” and I went out an average mall in our area of the country. The place was packed and there were people everywhere. The one thing I noticed was that no one seemed to be in a celebratory mood. Worrying over how they were going to pay for their Christmas gifts and concern for their jobs or losing their houses.

I spoke with one lady who’s husband had has hours cut back and was worried about what she was going to get her twin teenage daughters. They wanted the new touch screen ipods even though they owned ipods. Mom was perturbed because they wanted the latest and greatest.

We all fall into this trap of wanting more and more of the same tings we already have. We have been inundated with a culture of materialism. We are not satisfied unless we have a more. I am reminded of the answer J. Paul Getty gave when asked when would he have enough money. He said “When I have just a little more.”

Materialism is like that. We are never happy until we get just a little more! Only to find that we still need just a little more after that and a little more after that… and on and on it goes.

The creator of the universe when he came the first time came in a borrowed stable and had a borrowed manger for a cradle. When He died he was laid in a borrowed tomb. He asks us to follow him and be willing to give up anything that hinders us from doing so.

I wonder, could I give up everything to be obedient in following Him? Would I at least be willing to be willing? And how would I feel if I couldn’t get the latest ipod that I needed to gain “true” happiness?

This year as we celebrate Christmas, let’s not forget who’s birthday we are celebrating and remember to give Him the gift of our life to the one to whom we owe everything!

Jesus incarnated into this world to show us how to gain back a relationship with our Creator. When He left this world we became His horizontal incarnated body (think Church) to show this world what a relationship with the Creator looked like.

How’s that incarnation coming?

Merry Christmas

Pastor Val

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Fear Not

The angel appeared to her and said “Do not be afraid!”

Really? Are you kidding me?!!!

Don’t be afraid!? God sends a messenger to give you a special message; a life changing message and his first words are “Fear not!”

I have to tell you, I personally would be anything but fearless in that situation. Speechless, perhaps; moist, most likely; full of wonder, probably; awestruck, definitely, but certainly not fearless.

Yet this is the announcement that comes with almost every message from God. Some people with way too much time on their hands actually counted and found 365 messages from God recorded in the Bible that include a similar phrase in God’s communication with humankind.

Obviously God understands that encounters with His messengers can be a fearful thing. But during this Advent season we anticipate the coming of Christ and we are reminded that when He comes as followers of Christ we have nothing to fear. We are to await, to anticipate and prepare to celebrate His return.

What do you fear today?

Is it the loss of a job, the death of a loved one, the sale of your house, the loneliness of this season, the fear of the future?

Even in this time of economic uncertainty, and financial downturn when the future is so uncertain for many of us, God wants to speak peace into our lives.

Regardless of what you fear, God tells us not to fear but rather to trust in Him. Yeah I know it’s so much easier said then done. “Fear not for I will be with thee, Your rod and staff comfort me. In the presence of my enemy You prepare a feast for me. You promise to never leave me nor forsake me.”

Often His plans don’t coincide with ours. His plans are far different then ours, but they always lead to peace even when the storms are raging.

In the interlude between the two comings of Christ are we willing to allow for Him to break into our lives and to interrupt our plans with His plan? Are we representing His kingdom faithfully? Are we working to do His will by being His horizontal incarnation here in this world?

As we prepare to celebrate God’s silent invasion some two thousand years ago, let’s remember that as Christ Followers we have nothing to fear for His has over come the grave, death and hell. We should be longing for the hope of His return and the final re-creation of this world back God’s original intent and plan.

Until then, Fear Not

Pastor Val