The Christmas controversy

It’s apparent this time of year to know that quite a bit of controversy surrounds the celebration of Christmas by Christans. The general debauchery and excesses of parties, as well as the supposed completely pagan origins of the holiday fuel the controversy.

I completely agree that while Christmas should point to the birth of the Son of God, the savior of the world, it’s lost in commercialism and decadence. It’s a sad reality! However I do not fully detach from it. I do not partake in revelry, and this time brings to forethought the savior’s birth, and opportunity to preach the gospel.

If you decide not to celebrate Christmas you do so according to your conscience that is commendable. As Romans 14:22-23 stresses, “whatever you believe about these things, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But whoever doubts stands condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith, and everything that is not from faith is sin.”

If you celebrate, focusing on the savior, spreading the gospel, loving and helping others, you do well in the eyes of the Father. If you abstain for conscience sake, still proclaim the gospel, love and help others.

I’ve noticed a level of pride from those who reject Christmas…an inflated ego in believing other believers worship pagan demons in their festivities and gatherings while only they truly follow God’s will. It’s sad, God does not tolerate pride: “God resists the proud,but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). we are to be humble in all we do, and do everything to the glory of God: “For whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. ” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

And as to Christmas and it’s “pagan origins,” so be it…when celebration of the Lord’s advent we do well in redeeming a cursed day to God’s glory. Our God is a God of renewing, of redeeming: of making new. Taking a pagan, day of idolatry and using it to glorify the only Lord is absolutely right!

Whether you choose to celebrate Christmas or not, do it to the glory of God! Preach of Christ’s coming in the flesh nonetheless, doing the work of the our great God and king!

Did God really say…

As believers, our adversary the devil has had a long time to master his craft. Just as in the garden when he made Eve question God’s word, “did God really say you can’t eat from any tree in the garden?” (Genesis 3:1)

He misrepresented God’s word, focused upon a want and a “nagging rule,” and the result was the fall. Satan does the same thing today: “look at all the rules you have to follow…” “you can’t…” he sows doubt in God’s perfect revelation, His word, the Bible, “did he really say…” and uses our fallen tendencies to lure and deceive.

As believers we must know God’s word so as to know fact from fiction, and keep our senses attuned to his trickery. We must know our adversary, cling to the savior, and be so well acquainted with His word that we realize all forgeries presented.

Gracious, God, we praise and thank you for your mercy and love. We give thanks for your strength provided us by your indwelling. May we walk in your power, grace, and love and not in our sinfulness and frailty. May we be lovers of your word, so accustomed to the truth that we notice and reject all falsehood and deceit. Protect us from the evil one, his lies and perversion of your word and will. Please keep us in the true faith. Sanctify us by your word and have us be people of the word. All to your glory: the only redeemer, creator and king! In Christ’s holy name. Amen

Christmas

Ho, ho, ho, so it goes! It’s Christmas time again. Stores, and music testify to this fact. My question is, what in the world happened to Christmas? Is Christmas simply a celebration of debt and diabetes as it seems, or something more?

Our society is focused entirely upon materialism. The “true meaning of Christmas” is in buying those you love, the best of the best. While gift giving can be fun and when handled correctly, a true blessing, we miss the point.

Christmas is about Christ: Jesus of Nazareth who proved to be the promised coming Messiah of the Hebrew scriptures. Jesus is come, we celebrate the incarnation of very God come in human flesh to free us from sin, death, and the devil.

We would do wise to celebrate this time as is worthy and look to the One to whom it glorifies. Jesus is come in the flesh: fullness of God in helpless babe…truly amazing. Far more impressive than any electronic device or delicious food!

I’m not saying don’t celebrate. I’m just pointing to why we celebrate the birth of Jesus, two thousand years ago: a Jewish man who was crucified and set all of history since then moving. We even track time and history by this Jesus’ life!

He is the Christ, the very Son of God…every reason to celebrate!

“Today in the city of David a savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:11

End times obcession

So, having strayed from the faith for some time and being brought back by, God’s grace I’ve noticed something. Our society, especially many believers are obsessed with eschatology. Movies, books and everyday events are focused on the “end times.” Now I know we await Christ’s second coming: expectantly so, and should be mindful of the times in which we live.

However, an unhealthy obsession with eschatology and end times prophecy isn’t healthy or helpful for the work of the believer, I believe.   There is no need to fight over end times particulars. I know folks who over any news event will state with full assurance “rapture in 5, 4, 3, 2…”

As Mark 13:32-33, states “Now concerning that day or hour no one knows-neither the angels in heaven nor the Son-but only the Father. WATCH! BE ALERT! For you don’t know when the time is coming.”

We, nobody knows when the second coming will occur. Now I want to be with my Lord with all my heart! But to make assertions that we know exactly when He returns is un-biblical and makes us look foolish to the world at large.

We are charged as believers to be about our Father’s work until Christ returns: love, help our fellow man, and preach the Gospel…Those are things we all as believers can agree on. “Pre-trib, post-trib,” I don’t know…lets go about doing what our Lord wills, and by His strength we will.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 “Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him: we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to be easily upset or troubled, either by a prophecy or by a letter supposedly from us, alleging that the day of the Lord has come. Don’t let anyone deceive you, in any way. For that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.”

Faces

A man of many faces is how I’ve ever dwelled

It’s a bare necessity of living in this hell

A smile, a grin, an upward gauze is easier to see

This inspite of living a life of tragedy

But those with depth can see right through to what lies beneath

Until I find that one my secret I will keep

A man of many faces but only just for you for those with eyes can see completely through

From death to life

So, where to begin?! I’m honestly still trying to make sense of it, but something I realized after stands out to me.

I had dealt with depression for years on and off and struggled with a constant feeling of not belonging or having purpose or reason to live. I went in and out of hospitals for years: being stabilized, medicated and sent home “all better.” I would do well for a time until the thoughts and feelings would return.

I’ve been hospitalized and put on more meds than I can count. Each time after the stabilization period I would return to psychosis and despair. I would be drawn to alcohol use to numb the pain which made it much worse. Self harm and suicide attempts have left my body with numerous scars.

Five years ago I was involved in a serious motorcycle accident which left me with a severe traumatic brain injury and physical and psychological problems. My job, marriage ended, my “friendships, and aquantinces” ruptured. I had nothing, lost everything and was in the darkest pit of despair I’ve yet to be in.

The main thing that prompted my pulling of that trigger was shame and guilt.  I made truly awful decisions following my TBI and the subsequent chaos that followed.   I became animal-like: inappropriate relationships,  alcohol and drug us…my life was a display of vulgarity and I began to realize all wrong I had done and it left me in despair.

2 Corinthians 7:10 states, “for godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, but worldly grief produces death.” I have found this to be an absolute fact! I had enormous grief over my actions…justifiably so. How I was living my life was an offense to God and absolutely despicable! However, correctly utilized that grief should have brought me to the cross of Christ for His forgiveness and grace.

I fell under condemnation for my actions. This isn’t to excuse how I lived, I was indeed wrong. However the reality is that God still loved/loves me and offers forgiveness and reconciliation in Christ! I didn’t focus upon the Savior and as a result was consumed with despair and chaos.

It’s been a really rough road! It’s amazing I’m alive, I thank my God everyday. I’m so aware of the power of guilt, the flesh, sin, the devil and most of all the absolute necessity and reality of Jesus’ victory won for me at Calgary!

I’ve made tragic decisions and lived a truly toxic life: but I’m forgiven, a child of God by His grace!

https://youtu.be/U6AaZIL_v-k

Mask

Poem I wrote before my suicide attempt…ironic in how it left me looking

I wear this mask you see a copy of the old me

For you it’s normal, not at all I’ve lost myself after all

For fear and longing I keep it on to act like carrying on

Perhaps one day you’ll see the one you knew is no longer me

The darkest night

The sound is deafening! What in the world is that mechanical noise?!

“Where am I, why does my head hurt SO bad?!” It’s amazing I was concious…it’s hard to explain how without mention of something beyond merely the physical.

On May seventeenth of twenty nineteen I woke up in my car to the sound of a lawnmower outside. The night before I had put a loaded twelvegauge shotgun with buckshot inside, to the roof of my mouth (to go through my hard-pallet to hit my brainstem causing instant death) and pulled the trigger.

There was a cross outside of the church: I pulled beside it, fell to my knees, prayed “please forgive me, I can’t take any more.” I loaded the shotgun, put the seat all the way back in my car and put the barrel in my mouth…

The people doing lawn maintenance at the church where I had parked my car to kill myself were beyond terrified by my looks: what had been my face was now a massive hole…no nose, no jaw, no teeth: just blood, lots of blood!

I tried to tell them I needed help but the words would not come out! I grabbed a peace of paper and wrote “I’ve shot myself, please get help.” What followed were months of hospital stays and my new life having survived a serious suicide attempt.