Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Light of Christmas

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
For those who lived in a land of deep shadows-light! sunbursts of light!
Isaiah 9:2 (Msg)

Who can argue with this scripture when it refers to people walking in darkness?  Surely, in our day and age, we are a people who walk in darkness.

  • There are refugees who have lived in refugee camps longer than I have lived anywhere in my adult life.  
  • Slavery still exists all over the world, more that we would ever want to admit.  Statistics say that only 1-2% are ever rescued.
  • There are families raising their children in areas that are full of radiation all around Chernobyl.  Never mind GMO's and bottled water.  These people are eating and drinking radioactive water and food. 
  • Members of my family will have a different kind of Christmas as they remember the little boy who went to be with Jesus last Christmas Day.
  • There are soldiers away from home this holiday.
  • There are people fighting cancer with everything they've got.  
  • There are people struggling with abuse, depression, and addictions everywhere you look.
Need I go on?  

But this scripture also says these same people have seen a great light.  I love how The Message puts it - "sunbursts of light".   That light - the light of Christmas is HOPE.  Hope is what ignites us.  It allows us, no pushes us, to have joy in the midst of darkness.  Because it is the hope of our Salvation - Jesus - that in reality keeps us moving forward.  Today may be bad, but tomorrow can be better.   This world is not all there is.  It is rightly said that we are all fatal.  Not one of us gets out of here alive.  And yet, we can have hope, because we are told of a better place.  A place where
      • the lame will walk
      • the blind will see
      • Families will be reunited
      • Horrible diseases will be no more
      • No hurting souls
      • No jealousy
      • No greed
      • No prejudice.
      • No earthquakes
      • No wildfires
      • No drought
      • No floods

This.  THIS is the HOPE of Christmas.  Baby Jesus was born to die for MY sins - for YOUR sins, so that one day we could reign on the New Earth with HIM!  Think of the most beautiful place on earth, improved 100%.  We get to go there!!   Crazy, but true.  As my pastor says, "You can't make this stuff up!"

So take heart friends.  If you are hurting, know that Jesus came to comfort you and one day all things will be made right.  If life is good, know that one day, it may not be.  But Jesus came for that day too.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Last weekend I spent the weekend, or most of it at my local IF:Gathering.  This movement of women seeks to gather, equip & unleash a generation of women.  Women who are in relationship with Christ.  This year the focus was on "what if we lived like Jesus?"  And really, isn't that what we are called to do?

 Believe in Him - yes, but James tells us that even the demons do that.

  Believe Him and what he says.  Oh yes.

But to live LIKE HIM.  Well....  That's when it gets a little harder.  Because if we live like him, that calls us out of our comfort zones, I don't care who you are.

To be compassionate enough to love the unlovable, confident enough to speak truth even when it is not politically correct, to look everyone in the eye.  Jesus - he loved even when his closest friends abandoned him.  We get insulted if someone says the wrong thing to us.

But really, it's simple.  Jesus summed it up, not in 12 steps, but in 2:
Love God
Love Others

Simple, but incredibly hard.  Because the truth is, I love me.  My comfort, my rights, my opinions.

This weekend, almost all of the material came from the gospel of John.  So today, I am starting a treasure hunt - to find out what Jesus did so that I can follow his example.  Not just reading the words Jesus said, but really looking at what He DID.  I am not sure what I'll find as dig in to the Gospel of John, but I do know it will be worth the effort.