Don’t be a Grinch trying to Steal the Hope of Christmas?

a- grinch      Most of us are acquainted with Dr. Seuss’s Grinch, the Green grumpy creature, which is intent on ruining Christmas for the village of Whoville. Theodor (Dr. Seuss) Geisel’s written rhyme in 1957 has over the years been made into various movies. The green self-seeking creature is embedded in most of our memory as the one that would do anything to steal the joy, hope and blessing of Christmas. Though it is just a story full of humor and fun it brings out a message that we are faced with each and every year. There are always those who want to steal the message of hope during this incredible season.

Interestingly enough we read a very similar story in the gospel of Mathew. Even though there are no green monsters and the setting is not Whoville but Jerusalem. We read in Matt 2:1-3, “…in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? …When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled”. Jesus had been born a couple years earlier and now the wise men of the east had come to Jerusalem looking for the child King, to worship Him. King Herod was agitated and was shaken to his core at the Wise men’s report. Keep in mind every since the angels had announced Jesus was born King of the Jews to the Sheppard’s years earlier, the news had spread throughout the social media of the day becoming common rumors in the region. (Lk 2:8-20)

For an insecure King this new development only threatened him the more. He had worked and managed to become the representing King over the Jewish people for the Roman Empire and now the reality of the Jewish prophecies, the talk of the city and now the Wise men’s intentions have come to haunt his self-ambitions. The news that the “King of the Jews” had been growing up amongst them is more than he could grasp.

This troubled Herod turned into a raging maniac that wanted to get rid of any threat to his kingship. It was after he deceived and lied to the wise men that he ordered every male child two years and younger to be killed around Bethlehem and the region in hopes of doing away with any future threat. (v.16) Herod was so self-adsorbed and fixed on doing whatever he wanted to do that he became obsessed in not allowing any other King to threaten his kingdom and therefore tried to destroy any hope for the people and the nation. He was the real life “Grinch” of the ages!

How often have you allowed your insecurities or selfishness to steal the hope of this season? Have you been troubled or threatened by the Lordship of Christ? The scripture says in Matt 6:24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other”. We can’t serve King Jesus if we are living to our own pleasures. The “Rich Young Ruler” went away sad because he was unwilling to bow his knee to King Jesus. We are only troubled and agitated by the presence of the King when we refuse to live a surrendered life before Him. Jesus said, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me”. (Mk 8:34) It’s time to stop being the Grinch who is stealing others Christmas’s hope and surrender to Jesus’ Kingship and bow down and worship Him.


The Night Hope Broke In to our World

3330791The walk from the back of the church seemed to be in slow motion as I walked to a narrators reading of the Christmas story. As I took each step in my makeshift gunnysack shepherd costume, this nervous six-grader who was in the Christmas program was drawn into the biblical truth. Though my cane and turban might have been nothing more than homemade, the reality of the birth of our savior was becoming personal to my young heart.

Every year as I watch the young children put on their annual Christmas programs I can’t help but reminisce not only on my own experience of the birth of Christ but also the account of the shepherd’s that were tending their flocks. In Luke 2:8-10, we read their story, “there were … shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them…”.

Let your minds eye wonder with imagination to that hillside outside the city in a distant field. Not only did the livestock live and settle there but the lowest of the social pyramid, the shepherds also made it their home. An occupation that was high

Hope didn’t come through a palace but through a Savior being born in a humble stable for all the earth to receive.       (tweet)

on the list many years before had now slid down to the lowest of low. Shepherds were in the same category as tax collectors and those that cleaned up dung in the streets.

It was quite different from what we had seen mentioned early in Genesis and throughout the times of the Patriarchs being a shepherd was a desired lifestyle for many sects of mankind. The sons of Isaac and Jacob tended flocks (Gen. 30:29; 30:12). Jethro, the priest of Midian, employed his daughters as shepherdesses (Ex. 2:16). Even Moses was a shepherd on the backside of the desert before he was branded by God’s glory. Yet, in the course of time things had changed and now being a shepherd was for the lowly.

Hope had also dwindled in the midst of God’s chosen people for it had been spiritually quiet for four hundred years. I am positive on a clear night many shepherds as they watched over their herds would gaze at the beautiful star-studded sky Continue reading

Was that a Speed Bump or Thanksgiving?

Exploring Santa Barbara's Santa Rita HillsIt was obvious that the young mother was being stretched beyond her limit. The crowded grocery store aisles, her long list of needed items and her child testing her the whole way, looked to be a melt down in the making. Then as if sent from heaven an elderly produce man knelt down and smiled as he gave the young child a beautiful orange. The boy’s mother asked, “What do you say to the nice man?” The little boy thought and handed the orange back and said, “Peel it”! I know that wasn’t exactly what the mother was looking for but it does reveal an attitude that many in our society hold whether young or old. We are becoming an ungrateful people. We don’t stop to be thankful but want more.

Paul admonishes the believers in 1Thes 5:18 “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” That really can’t be anymore clearer! God’s will for you and I as followers of Jesus is to be people of gratitude. I am not a Greek

I choose to not allow Thanksgiving to become nothing more than a speed bump between Halloween and Christmas!       (tweet)

scholar but that word “everything” pretty much means what it says, in all things. I don’t see much wiggle room there at all. So through the tough situations in your life, as well as, the good times we are encouraged to be thankful. Wow! Now that’s hard to swallow.

One man has said that our country’s national holiday has become nothing more than a speed bump between Halloween and Christmas. No sooner do the stores get done selling candy, costumes and carved pumpkins that they immediately start promoting the Christmas season. Many can’t even get through a family dinner before they are rushing out to get in line for “Black Friday”, a term that has become known

Stop the madness! Where there was once prayer, gratitude and family bonding, has now been taken over by shoving, selfishness and getting ahead of others.    (tweet)

for the big sales on Friday after Thanksgiving Day. Unfortunately, the beast of marketing and business has now crossed the line of a sacred day of thankfulness and family to start the sales when it’s time to eat. Where there was once prayer, gratitude Continue reading

I Just don’t have any Room this Christmas!

1 vacacyOver the years William H. Hunt’s famous allegorical painting, “The Light of the World” has stirred not only my heart but thousands of onlookers. The painting was originally painted over a hundred and fifty years ago in a small hut at Worcester Park Farm in Surrey and now beautifies the wall of the chapel at Keble College in Oxford. According to Hunt he painted the picture with what he thought was a divine command, and not simply as a good subject. This heart gripping painting illustrate Revelation 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him”.

This time of the year we celebrate the birth of Christ our Lord, yet so many have no room for Him.  (Tweet)

In the very beginning of scripture we see God’s heart in His creation. It says in Genesis not only did God create mankind, but also walked and talked with them in the garden. God has always wanted to be with us. To say it frankly, God can’t get enough of us. Hunt’s painting rightly shows God’s desire to come and commune with mankind. He is knocking and calling to us, but the ability to open the door lies within our responsibility.

The innkeeper in the Christmas story had no room for the baby Jesus. We read in Luke 2:7, “And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” The savior of the world makes His entrance into history through the humbleness of a barn due to there being no room in the local inn. Every time I see a neon “No Vacancy” sign in the window of a motel I think of this sad story. The bottom line is there was room in the inn. Where you ask? The innkeeper had his room and could have easily given it to the young pregnant mother. Whatever his excuse might have been, it locked the door on Jesus coming into his house.

Have you made room for Jesus in your life? Have you opened the door for Christ to come in and sup with you? This time of the year we celebrate the birth of Christ our Lord, yet so many have no room for Him. They have been caught and swept away in the hustle and bustle of the holiday.

The innkeeper had his room and could have easily given it to the young pregnant mother. (tweet)

The multitudes are rushing around trying to get the perfect gift and decorations so they can please everyone except for the one that it matters the most, the king and savior of the world.

In 2 Kings 4:8 there’s a story of the Shunammite women who made room for Elisha to stay at her house, which is a type of making room for Christ in our lives. She even went so far as setting up a permanent room for him. She didn’t want just a casual acquaintance with him, but a in-depth relationship. It says as often as the man of God would go that way that he would turn in there. That says it all… If we make room for God, He will come in and commune with us.

In Luke 19:5 Jesus tells Zacchaeus, “make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” Wow! He was up in a tree trying to see Jesus and therefore Jesus goes to his House. God can’t get enough of us and wants to spend time with us. Will you this Christmas make room for Jesus?

“Christ-Must” list or Christ Centered Communion?

christmas List  Remember the excitement when you were a child making your Christmas list. It was a time that your imagination would sky rocket and every new toy and gadget became a possibility for your list. In your mind there was never an issue about money or if it was even practical for you or not. We became consumed by the monster of greed and desire! The list could go on as long as our paper or our fingers could write. Those childhood memories will never be forgotten as they found their place snuggled in each of our hearts.

In the same manner many Christians treat their prayer life as if they are making that Christmas list once again. They come to God in prayer with a list of wants of fairytale proportions.  As a Christian it is nonproductive and spiritually unhealthy to have a “Santa Clause mentality” which degrades our walk of faith to nothing more than a lifestyle that teeters in the fairytale realm.

If we are not careful we will think and act like Ralphie, the young kid in the 1983 classic movie “Christmas Story”. He wanted a Red Rider BB gun for Christmas so desperately bad that he was consumed with making sure that Santa Claus knew what he wanted. The only thing that seemed to matter was for him to wait in line to be able to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him his Christmas list. How many Christian’s have a prayer life that resembles this same frantic feeling that they must hand Jesus their LIST? Does that sound familiar? Have you allowed your prayer time to be turned into nothing more than a Christ-must list or is it as it should be a place of Christ centered communion? Our prayer life must continue to develop from a passion to know Christ more.

I do understand that there are many facets of prayer and definitely realize that there is a time that we go to our heavenly Father with our needs and supplications. But if our prayer time is only defined by our list and what we need, then we are missing the joy and most important element of prayer.

We have been given the privilege and most awesome opportunity to minister unto Him. It’s when we come into His presence in worship and adoration that will lead us into the greatest and deepest point of our prayer life, the place of pure undefiled communion.  Transitioning from that attitude of “it’s all about us” to an eternal attitude of “living for the King” only happens when we can die to ourselves and live for His purposes in the earth.

Prayer is much greater than just a list of wants. It is a time that we respond to God’s invitation to come into His presence. He has always wanted us to abide with Him. We can see that all the way back to the Garden of Eden where God walked and talked with Adam and Eve. There was a sweet peaceful communion in the presence of the creator of the universe.

It was God’s idea and desire to walk and share His heart with His creation. From the very beginning of time, God created us to be in His presence and to know His heart. Let me ask you, “Have you ever taken the time to ask the Lord what’s on His list?  Or have you been so enthroned in our self-indulgence that we never even stop to hear or listen.

I encourage you as well as everyone to put down our “Christ-Must” list and reach higher in prayer to know His heart.