Archives For Christmas

The light of Jesus shows up best in dark places. It was into the darkness that Christ came as a baby. His light shone so brightly it brought shepherds in from their fields. Seekers from far off lands traveled two years to reach the light given off by Christ at His birth. Countless prison ministries find men and women encountering Jesus in the darkest depths of their lives.

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Persecuted Christians encounter Jesus in ways few of us can imagine in some of the darkest places on earth. When we are at our lowest, at our worst, the light of Jesus shines best. It calls us to Him. It promises something better, something cleaner, something more. In what areas of your life do you most need the light of Jesus today?

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I don’t know when you are reading this, but as I write it, Christmas is less than a week away. That means it’s somewhat obligatory I write a Christmas themed post. I know this because every sermon I’ve listened to for the past month (and I listen to a lot of sermons; call it a job hazard!) have all been around the Christmas story. Therefore, since I am a Christian writer, I apparently need to write about Christmas. But here’s the problem: regular readers of this blog already know all about the Christmas story.

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You’ve heard the same messages I have over the years. If we’re honest, it is rare we hear something in a new way this time of year. So instead of focusing on the Christmas story and trying to find some new twist to illuminate a story that cannot possibly be improved, I’m going to ask you a simple question: What will you do with Christmas?

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Those of you who work retail understand that particular career field has a way of destroying the wonder of Christmas. I’m twenty years removed from more than a decade of retail management, and I confess I think I am only now beginning to fully recover. To all of you in retail I want you to know I truly understand why this time of year may no longer be overly special for you.

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You are more likely pulling your hair out (or fantasizing about pulling out the hair of certain customers!) than you are experiencing the magnificent peace of the season. If you could hit pause for just a couple minutes, I’d like the opportunity to remind you of what an amazing time of year this is, and to hopefully help reorient your focus on the true reason for the season.

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I confess that I have wrongly come to treasure Easter more than Christmas. The commercialization of the day that used to be exclusively for celebrating the birth of our Savior has robbed some of the fascination from this season. From late October we’re inundated with sales flyers full of fantastic buys on things we still cannot afford and rarely ever need. Songs about Santa Claus and snowmen dominate the airwaves in anticipation of a day that used to be a celebration of the love of God. Sadly, it has devolved into a stressful, frenzied time that focuses on giving to others, but perhaps more so on what we will receive.

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What if Jesus had never been born? What if He had not come to walk among us? It’s Christmas Eve and tomorrow we celebrate the birth of our Savior a couple thousand years ago. How would your life be different today if you had never come to know Jesus? I’ll be honest, I’m not sure I’d be alive. There have been times in my life that if it weren’t for Jesus, I don’t think I would have made it through. I have often remarked that I don’t understand how people cope without Christ. To whom do they turn when everyone has failed them and everything has fallen apart? How do people without Jesus ever experience true peace? God created us for a purpose, and the only way to discover that purpose is through the person of Jesus Christ.

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I may never understand the reason God chose to send His son to earth as a human baby. I struggle to think of Jesus in all His perfection being helpless and having to be taught the basics of life such as walking and talking. Why did it have to be this way, surely there was some other way God could have brought salvation to our world?

While certain aspects of the salvation story may be incredible and imponderable, there is one thing I know for certain: I could not be more grateful. I am thankful that Jesus chose to experience the same things I did growing up, that He chose to identify with me in the most tangible way possible. As Geoff Moore wrote, “He was one of us, somehow like you and me/The God we serve breathed the air that we breathe”. Our Lord gave up everything so He could experience the same things we do. He faced socio-economic, peer and financial pressures. He faced the temptations of sex, greed, pride and selfishness. He knows exactly what we go through, every trial we face. He chose to make this knowledge an intimate rather than anecdotal knowledge. He knows exactly how we feel at all times because He has been there as well.

What must it have been like for Jesus to live among those who were so much the same, yet so much inferior to Him? Yet Jesus never put on the cloak of pride; instead He chose humility and gentleness. He identified with us, and in so doing allowed us to trust and love Him even more. We will never have to face something that He Himself has not faced. He blazed the trail, finished the race and defeated our enemy. Jesus faced it all and in the end won not only every battle, but He won freedom for all who would come to Him. No matter how you look at it, Jesus is the ultimate winner.

Here’s where it gets even more incredible. Jesus, the ultimate winner went through everything He did for the sake of evil, sinful folks like you and me. Just as Jesus is without a doubt the ultimate winner, there is no doubt that you and I are perennial losers. We fail over and over again, we swear allegiance to Christ and then turn around and deny Him. We claim to care for the orphans and widows, and then spend lavishly on Christmas for friends and family without giving a thought to the homeless and weak. If the truth be told, we fall far more often than we walk. We struggle and fail and plead for forgiveness from our perfect Savior. We are, indeed, ultimate losers. This is why God sent His son to redeem us. This is why Jesus came to set a perfect example for us to follow. This is why Jesus chose to empathize with our weakness. He knows who we are and loves us still. He came that our broken lives would find healing in His mercy. His humility covers our pride and His perfection cleanses our failures. So in this season when we celebrate the birth of Christ, we celebrate Jesus choosing to identify with losers like you and losers like me. Yes, Christmas is for losers and I couldn’t be more grateful.