Tag Archives: Christmas

No good comes from shaming

shaming

This generation believes — oddly — that humiliation brings reformation.

But Joseph refused to open his — apparently unfaithful — fiance to public scandal. She was found to be pregnant before the wedding, and Joseph knew he wasn’t the father.

Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily -- Matt. 1: 19 KJV. Justice — righteousness — was being considerate and tender with her.

Shaming can be traumatic, emotionally damaging. It is antithetical to God’s plan: He forgives and forgets. His lovingkindness (not severity) is what leads to repentance (Ro. 2:4). We despise the Puritans, and then we practice their worst.

This Christmas give the ultimate gift: forgiveness with forgetfulness. If restoration is your aim, drop the Nazi tactic of shaming.

Even rich people can be saved

easier for a rich manJesus’ warning is so troubling that (rich) commentators have claimed it was a gate in Jerusalem that required a camel to hunch down to make it through. But this explanation originated in the Middle Ages when scholarship wasn’t too good. There is a gate in Jerusalem called “the eye of the needle,” but it was built 1,000 years after Jesus walked the Earth, so He couldn’t have been referring to it.

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. — Matt 19: 24.

But really the eye of the needle is just that: an eye of a needle. It turns out that Jesus loved hyperbole — a rhetorical device of extreme exaggeration to highlight the importance of the saying.

So what is Jesus saying? First, riches can make it very hard for you to make it to Heaven. Second, if rich people are particularly difficult to get saved, God can save even them.

With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. – Matt. 19:26.

So the stern warning is also a herald of how wonderful Christmas is, how wonderful salvation is. The rich king (wise men) came to see Baby Jesus bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

We evolved from snowflakes!

evolution

from the Comical Conservative on Facebook

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Flip it

bad situations

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Why so many problems?

problems

Booker T. Washington

220px-Booker_T_Washington_retouched_flattened-cropIt’s easier to get freed from slavery than to free your mind from slavery. Just look at the 23 kajillion times the Israelite former slaves complained about being freed from slavery and wanted to go back to slavery in Egypt.

When you see that, you realize how extraordinary was the life of Booker T. Washington. He was born in slavery, but his mind soared far away from his oppressed beginnings to the launching of the  black higher institution of learning Tuskegee Institute. He literally built it out of bricks of clay made by the first imagesstudents.

Freed by the end of Civil War, Washington moved to West Virginia where he worked in salt furnaces and coal mines to cost his education. An indefatigable leader, he took the reins of the fledgling Tuskegee and drove it relentlessly into prominence. Thousands of blacks, who were tuskegee-instituterefused admittance at “white” institutions, graduated from Tuskegee.

A dynamic orator, resourceful, a master deal-maker, Washington wheedled and images-1cajoled finances and genius for his institution. The stand-out scientist George Washington Carver was persuaded to join Tuskegee and, when Thomas Edison would entice him away, to stay.

To overcome insurmountable odds, to triumph through wit, wisdom and work, to line up allies and disarm enemies all in the service of a greater cause, this is the remarkable legacy of the man who remains an inspiration for generations. To live only for self is such a waste when you could do so much good.

Anti-atrophy

images-1Muscle loss results from poor nutrition and disuse. Deprived of regular physical exertion, your bulk dwindles. Christians wish for a life without trials, but the result would be smaller spiritual muscles. So God ensures muscle growth, often through trials.

fitness_workout-routine-10-Good-Reasons-To-Exercise-Regularly.-black-womenFeed on the Word of God and insist on growing in the Lord; get out of your church comfort zone and take on new spiritual challenges, projects and goals. Those who dwell in your house go from strength to strength. – Psalm 84:4a, 7a NIV.

Don’t pray small

treeOften, the struggling pastor goes only for subsistence. He prays for just enough to pay bills and keep the church open. It’s true that God takes us through years of skinny cows, but He never wanted us to succumb to unbelief. He tells us to pray believing for ever bigger things. We fail to pass the test when we scale down our prayer requests, as if we ask too much, or as if God doesn’t want to give us. Bigger is in His interest because His kingdom grows. So go for something outrageously huge next prayer!

Hometown criminal now preaches Jesus

Edgar, second from left, lunching between outreaches.

Edgar, second from left, lunching between outreaches.

Bro. Glen prays with a needy soul.

Bro. Glen prays with a needy soul.

Pacoima was the city of Edgar’s downward spiral. It was there at age 13 he was arrested, high on PCP, trying to steal a car. It was there he was in-and-out-of jail until age 26. He got “two strikes” and under California law teetered on brink of life imprisonment. When he got out of jail, the specter of succumbing to his old life in this deathtrap of a city made Edgar shudder.

On Saturday, Edgar Cervantes went back to Pacoima. He went to tell others about the wonders of Jesus. For seven years, he’s been off drugs, away from alcohol, out of crime. He has outreached for Jesus in many

Edgar's nephews were in the audience.

Edgar’s nephews were in the audience.

places, but this was different. This is where the devil had waylaid him. This time Edgar went home get revenge on the devil.

There’s a pioneer church here so small they use a park childcare center for services. (Ah the beauty of pioneering! Where just one soul turning to Christ from sin thrills the soul!)

Junior, Edgar's nephew, saved out of tagging, now raps to listeners about what God has done.

Junior, Edgar’s nephew, saved out of tagging, now raps to listeners about what God has done.

After hours of passing out flyers and knocking on doors, only two souls came. One was Edgar’s brother. Another was a lady’s cousin. I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. – Luke 15:7 NIV.

The place he feared became the place where the devil fears him. A place of defeat becomes a place of triumph. Only God can do this.

Get the doubt out

Ben Rogers Blog 14Rene Descartes said cognition makes the man:  “I think; therefore, I am.” Mouse in The Matrix defined the essence of man as his fleshly impulses. Researchers of the brain tend to reduce such complexities as love to electrical/chemical reactions in certain regions of the brain.

The “essence” of man is none of these. His essence is “doubt.”

Mouse in The Matrix

Mouse in The Matrix

It is easier to doubt than believe. In many circles, doubting is seen as sophisticated. The pessimist is congratulated for his superior view of reality. Scoffers are popular. The human being becomes so easily discouraged. Feeding doubt comes natural.

George-Washington-Christmas-300x186George Washington lost seven consecutive battles before he scored his first victory, on a Christmas day when he surprised the celebrating (drunk) enemies. Thank God there were people who believed in (his superiors and his subordinates) enough to support him.

imagesHanukkah is a holiday remembering the dedication of the temple after the Barbarians had desecrated it. Let us honor this season by “dedicating” ourselves to believe more in God. Victory comes only to those who believe. To achieve anything worthwhile, you must believe.

Photo thanks to British Columbia ROCKS!

Photo thanks to British Columbia ROCKS!

Even I struggle to overcome doubt. What helps me? Christian friends and fellowship, hearing testimonies of what God has done, reminding myself of miracles, reading the Bible, praying. Neglect a bit the hubbub of Christmas and get alone with God. May the time we use to praise Him for His birth be not so much a time of commercialism but of faith-building.