Friday, December 28, 2012
Several months ago I read through the book of Hebrews in the Bible and four words stuck out to me, as if they were jumbo sized and flashing in bright lights against the page. Here are those words.
"But we see Jesus ..."
- Hebrews 2:9 NIV
Since it's the end of the year I've been reflecting on these last 12 months and while there have been high points, honestly it seems that this year has been filled with mostly low points. Mostly discouragement. Mostly physical pain. Mostly loneliness. Mostly stress. Mostly disappointment in life.
Sure, I could blame it on lots of things, like my parents' major health struggles, but nothing would really be a legitimate excuse. I was just beginning to get discouraged. Depressed, actually. My sleep cycle got messed up, I began eating a lot less than normal, I was withdrawing from people, and I've been sad a lot. I was beginning to be glad - but glad that this year would soon be over. It was a self-centered, woe-is-me, pity party kind of glad.
But then I remembered how on Christmas Eve I preached a message about Jesus lighting up our lives, and I started seeing Jesus lighting up different times of this year in my life. I thought about my brother and sister-in-law's wedding in June, how it was the first time in over a year that my whole family had been together, how much fun I had with my brothers, how happy my parents were, and how much I love my new sister and her family. I saw Jesus in all of that.
I thought about how my parents celebrated their 40th anniversary just two days after the wedding. And how rare that is in a time when many marriages, even among Christ-followers, don't last beyond 10 years. I saw Jesus in that.
I remembered how the Lord has grown Del Sol Church, Northeast and East, and how so many people's lives have been changed. I thought about the couples who had been living together outside of marriage for years, and how they decided to start living a God-honoring life and put themselves in a place where God could bless them - by finally getting married. I thought about the people I've had the privilege of baptizing, and the light bulb moments people in my GrowGroup had experienced, and how people began to see that church can be exciting and fun. And I saw Jesus in all that.
I thought about the good times with friends: zombie parties, movie nights, Walking Dead viewing parties, eating together, laughing together, praying together - and I saw Jesus in those times.
In many ways, as I look back on this year filled with so much heartache, loneliness, pain, stress, confusion, and difficulty, I see Jesus in all of it. And I've realized the old cliche "I'm too blessed to be depressed" is actually true.
So as you think back on your life this year: where do YOU see Jesus? You don't have to look hard - He's been there all along, in good times and bad. I would encourage you to invest some time before the new year and think back where Jesus has shown Himself to you this year. I guarantee it'll encourage you.
"But we see Jesus ..."
Monday, December 10, 2012
It's two weeks until Christmas Day. Christmas is more than just a day about family, love, giving, and kindness. Christmas is first and foremost about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior and King of the world. We don't have to fight a war over Christmas or try to "keep Christ in Christmas", because He never left.
Honestly, you can't even say Christmas without Christ. You can be intellectually inconsistent and call it a "holiday tree" and "holiday lights" instead of a Christmas tree, but that makes no sense because the only holiday which we decorate a tree for is Christmas - not Arbor Day, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, or Hanukkah. Those are great holidays, but Christmas trees are only for Christmas. As I said, Christmas will always be about Christ.
How can I say that with such confidence? Why do I not need to fight a war over Christmas and boycott stores who don't use the word "Christmas" in their ads? Because of what God says about Christmas in the Bible. John 1:5 NLT says this:
"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it."
No matter how commercialized or secularized Christmas becomes, it can never be denied that Christmas is about Christ. Christmas will always have Christ in it because He is the Light of the World.
Now since Christmas is just a couple of weeks away and since Jesus Christ came as out Light, I want to encourage you to do something as a way to worship and honor Christ during this time. Here's what you can do: over the next two weeks, keep your eyes open for Christmas light.
When you're looking for it, you'll be surprised where you find it. Sure you'll see Christmas lights on trees and homes, but if you keep your eyes open you'll also find Christmas light all around you. For example, I was at St. Clement's Church in Downtown El Paso recently and I saw some Christmas light in an unexpected place - shining across the pews in this photo I took:
Look for the light this Christmas, let it remind you of Christ our Light, and worship Him in your heart.