Although I am working at the office today, I am taking the rest of the week off to spend time with family. As many of you know, I am a history buff. As a Christmas gift I received an encyclopedia-sized book that is a pictorial history of World War 2. I have enjoyed the time reviewing those pictures of that epic season of world history.
I asked myself the question, ‘What would have happened to the world if the US had not entered that war’. The answer was simple. Adolph Hitler would have completely dominated Europe, systematically eradicating all Jews from the earth. All of God’s promises for the Promised Land would have been proved false, or the Second Coming of Jesus Christ would have occured.
But it was right for the US to enter this European war. The threat Nazi Germany waged against all free people mandated it. And many millions of believers were added to the Kingdom in the generation to follow. God is not willing that any perish, and gave the world another chance. That chance however, is drawing to a close. The next holocaust is already brewing…
Our culture has so blurred the celebration of Christmas in America that most Christians have forgotten how to celebrate the birth of Christ. Let’s refocus on the main point: Christmas is a Christian holy day where God’s people celebrate God becoming man. If Christians celebrate just like non-Christians, it proves we really don’t know what we’re celebrating.
Christmas is about the key to life being delivered to a suffering planet. It is about the light shining into the darkness and delivering it. It is about the coming of a deliverer who frees captives from a hopeless spiral of destruction. It about God with us, actually living on the inside, giving continual guidance and direction for the lost. It is about God giving us humans spiritual languages to communicate directly with Him.
There’s no comparing Jesus and Santa; they just don’t go together. I’m going to get back to the basics this next year. Would you join me?
I’ve just completed my second book. As a hobby, I’ve spent the past 30 years or so studying the life of my great-great grandfather, an early pioneer to this county. That search has taken me to cemeteries in Pennsylvania, courthouses in Ohio, and genealogical libraries in Indiana. I finally collected about all the information available on this family’s life, and put it together in story form woven around current historic events of the day.
Now, no one is interested in reading the book except those descended from him, mostly my cousins. I’ll never be able to recoop my costs, so I give them away as Christmas gifts to family. But the book gives me a great feeling of completion as I set this phase of my research behind me.
The Bible says my name is written in another Book and will never be erased. It is the Book of Life. I wonder what people will write about my life someday. Will the collection of my life’s events interest anyone? That remains to be seen. But the important thing, says Jesus, is that my name is found in the Book.
Anita and I were doing some Christmas shopping at Wal-Mart last week. Standing in the aisle way was an Amishman in his latter sixties. He was captivated by a row of color TVs all showing the movie ‘Cars’. He watched with an excited smile on his face to see what would happen next.
Anita and I went on about our business and came back that way about 15 minutes later. He was still standing in the very same spot, still blocking the aisle, with that same fascinated grin on his face. He was hooked!
Now, ‘Cars’ is a delightful movie. But there was an inconsistency about an Amishman who is opposed to all modern conveniences being hooked on a movie about cars on TV! So it made me reflect on possible inconsistencies in my own life. Not the kind of inconsistencies other people see, but the kind of inconsistencies God sees. Am I a man of integrity as I preach about, or does God see serious inconsistencies that limit my relationship with him? That Amishman preached a sermon to me and I need to do some soul-searching.
I commented last about sowing seed thoughts of hope into people’s lives at funerals. But how do we keep that seed growing until it germinates into new life?
When I first became a Christian it made people angry because they didn’t understand my motive for changing. They griped that I thought I was better than them. My friend, Mike, for example, said bluntly, “No one changes overnight! We’ll watch and see how long it lasts.” It’s now been 35 years, Mike. Are you still watching?
Everyone wants to believe. They just don’t think its real because they’ve never seen it bring a genuine change to someone’s life, because most of the so-called Christians gave up on their faith and walked away, or else they were hypocrites in the way they lived from the beginning. You see, people need a witness that is credible. They really want it to be true. They just want some proof. You and I are the living proof.
The preacher is paid to be good, so his/her witness is always suspect. But when regular ordinary men and women demonstrate a transformed life that takes, that’s a witness that counts. People are watching; are you giving them the right show?
This week I’ve had two funerals in a row (one day apart). One was 56 years old and the other was 96. I enjoy doing funerals because I have a captive audience that are all there because they want to be. They all have some sort of relationship with the deceased, and they are all thinking about death and dying.
Because life on this earth is temporal (it only lasts about 70-80 years) everyone knows death is coming sooner or later to about 100% of us. So, I have the opportunity to speak to them about an issue that is close to their hearts. Where is Aunt Sally now? What happens after death? Is there a heaven? Will I go there?
After we review the life of the deceased, I share scriptures that are relevant to the person’s hope after their life on earth is over. Most often, I share Psalm 23 because it speaks about God’s desired relationship with people and closes talking about our hope for the future, which is a great lead-in for me to share the gospel, whether the deceased was a believer or not.
So, at funerals I get to sow seeds of faith and hope into people’s lives. I may not be able to do much with Aunt Sally’s past choices, but I do have an open window to speak into the lives of the living. I love doing funerals because of these things.