When Jesus said disciples are to be the salt of the earth, he wasn't talking about flavor or preserving.
He was talking about dung and ovens. Interpretations of preserving and flavor really do not capture the picture of a believer's calling. It's a different challenge...
Many conservative Christians would not believe that there are times when Jesus does NOT want us coming to Him. There are times as believers that we should not go to Jesus with our problem.
Hold on. Surely all those hymns, sermons, greeting cards, and cross-stitched pillows about 1 Peter 5:7, the ones that encourage us to cast all our cares upon Him, they can't be wrong! Well, maybe we've missed something...
No, this is not about the old-school hip-hop song from the 80's or the more recent song by Beyonce. They are not killing the church in America.
I'm to blame. And so are you. That is, if you are a Christian. We are guilty along with several generations of Christians before us. It was not the liberal universities. It was not the media. It was not the 1960's. It was us, American Christians. We have contributed as much as anyone to the present culture, and we are the ones killing the church in America...
If you saw a guy dumping out the messy, wet contents of a trash bag onto the street, how would you react?
What if that same guy was dumping those contents into the middle of your bed? How would you react differently?
For most people, the bed is more sacred than the street.
Our daughter Macayla helped us understand what is sacred as we had to make decisions about protecting and prolonging her life even though we could not stop her from dying. Battens disease is 100% fatal. When do you prolong life and when do you stop suffering?
But we live in a culture where boundaries and definitions about what is sacred are dissolving. American Christians struggle in large part to understand the importance and implications of sacredness in their daily lives as believers. Dissolving the sacred is killing the church in America...
I want some Chinese. There's a lot to this statement, but more on that in a minute.
My son asked me how he should deal with a situation. As we talked about the specifics, I told him to ask God by praying and reading some Scripture.
He responded, "But, God has never spoken to me like that and there's nowhere in the Bible that's going to talk about my situation.
My son's response was not accurate, but it reflects what most people think about the Bible. It reflects the general misunderstanding and disconnect American Christans have with Scripture. American Christians are biblically illiterate and it's killing the church in America.
Busyness. Days begin to blend into one another and before we know it, another year is gone. Television, games, and social media provide hours of distraction which covertly compete with our schedules, eroding chunks of time. It is easy to become anesthetized.
One litmus test for anyone who identifies himself or herself as a Christian is: How has Christ changed you in the last six months?
If there is no discernible difference, then we need to question if we are truly a Christian. Christ came to transform lives for eternity. He did not die a horrible death on a Roman cross and bear the brunt of God's justice for all our sins, just so we could practice a greeting-card religion. It is not simply about being "nice" or making sure our good deeds outnumber our bad. It is about being transformed through surrender and the good works will naturally follow.
When we are numbed by the busyness of our lives, we stop paying attention to who we are and where we are. We become desensitized to Christ's daily leading and this stagnates change.
Jesus does not offer easy options, but they are straightforward. If I'm not surrendered to His agenda to transform me, then how can I refer to myself as a Christian? If I'm not being changed, then I'm not following Him.
Imagine being on a path that leads to treasure, but you also discover more treasure hidden along the path. That's how we are looking at this story in Luke 2:1-14. Instead of trying to leap to the treasure found at the end once the story is complete and the "moral of the story" revealed, we discovered several treasures along the way. We've had to slow down and pay attention to many details to see these treasures.
By the way, check out this month's ParentLife for my article on the 12 Days of Christmas and some other ideas of how to celebrate!
Does the Gospel of Luke have a blatant historical error in recording Jesus' birth?
The fact a census was controversial for first-century Jews may provide an answer...
Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem because of a census when "Quirinius was governor of Syria." This is a problem since he was "governor" of Syria in 6 A.D. The Gospels state Jesus was born during Herod the Great's reign which ended eight years earlier in 4 B.C.
Is God's word in error? Was Jesus born during Herod's reign or Quirinius' governorship? Do such questions make believers angry?