Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christ Has Come!

All Glory Be to Christ

by Kings Kaleidoscope

Should nothing of our efforts stand
No legacy survive
Unless the Lord does raise the house
In vain its builders strive

To you who boast tomorrow’s gain
Tell me what is your life
A mist that vanishes at dawn
All glory be to Christ!

All glory be to Christ our king!
All glory be to Christ!
His rule and reign we'll ever sing,
All glory be to Christ!

His will be done
His kingdom come
On earth as is above
Who is Himself our daily bread
Praise Him the Lord of love

Let living water satisfy
The thirsty without price
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet
All glory be to Christ!

All glory be to Christ our king!
All glory be to Christ!
His rule and reign we'll ever sing,
All glory be to Christ!

When on the day the great I Am
The faithful and the true
The Lamb who was for sinners slain
Is making all things new.

Behold our God shall live with us
And be our steadfast light
And we shall ere his people be
All glory be to Christ!

All glory be to Christ our king!
All glory be to Christ!
His rule and reign we'll ever sing,
All glory be to Christ!
Rejoicing with you at our Savior's birth,

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Perfect Christmas

The posts of people trying to follow The Nester's "it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful" plan for their Christmas decorations are numerous. But something got lost in translation. Because most of the folks who are taunting that phrase like a mantra have missed it. Please don't write to me about perfection and simplicity if everything in your house looks like a magazine spread. I spend everyday of the year battling perfection in my mind and actions and these posts just make it more confusing for me.

You know what posts I like to read? The ones that say nothing about fighting perfection but show homes that are lived in and are imperfectly beautiful. Most people don't want to pin pictures of their messy desk, dirty dishes, or dog hair covered floor. But in honesty those things exist because of the living that happen in homes that are well used.

So on a week that I ended up with less margin than someone like me needs...A week with two dinner parties among other things, I have a choice to make. Perfection or joy. I can choose to work my fingers to the bone pursuing the illusive perfect holiday consumed with last minute details. Or I can serve good food to people I love and linger. Take a breath, enjoy the conversation, and pray it lasts until the candles burn out. I can have perfectly sparkling floors or a nicely set table that I hope will cause my guests to ignore the floors. Personally, the table sounds like more fun to me.

With Christmas exactly one week away perhaps your to-do list is still incomplete. Lets make a pact, you and I. How about whatever isn't finished by December 20th gets crossed of the list? What if, in lieu of one more thing to fill their house, what your friends and family really want for Christmas is more of you? How about you linger longer over hot chocolate and cookies? What about that person who just wants to gaze at the Christmas tree lights curled up on the couch with you? Or the person who would love for you to watch that Christmas movie with them? Again. For the tenth time.

Perhaps giving up your perfect Christmas means you give someone else theirs? What if their perfect Christmas means simply, more of you?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

On Isaac Hunter, Orlando, and the American Church

Original Image
 We withhold grace. From others, from ourselves, and especially pastors who fall. Our Bible talks all about an upside-down Kingdom but it is we who are living upside-down. Why won't we talk about mental health? Or addictions including chemical, sexual, and porn to name a few? Why is the church not a a safe place to be single, unwed, or infertile? Why should homosexuals fear entering our doors? We have become "a Church that seems unwilling to talk about certain uncomfortable issues, choosing rather to ignore them, try to cover them up or simply reject people who bring them up," according to Zach Perkins.

I am a an American Christian which is almost an oxymoron these days. You see Christians in America for the most part have no idea what it means to be Christians. We embrace the American dream, teach our children moralism instead of the Gospel and don't even interact with unbelievers much rather share our faith with them.

Hear me out, sin is evil. It separates us from God. But as Elyse M. Fitzpatrick says, "I am more sinful and flawed than I ever dared believe, more loved and welcomed than I ever dared hope." God's grace is so much greater than our sin and he pours it lavishly upon us.

Orlando is my city. My heart beats with it. I take joy in its sights, sounds, and tastes. Like my God, my heart breaks for its people in prison to their sins, broken and bleeding. Recently we had several pastors fall to sin that stole their families, their lives, and their ministries. There are a lot of necessary steps when any of us falls greatly including professional counseling, Biblical community, and Godly accountability. But that process should always begin with grace and ideally end with restoration.

I'm tired of those who have suffered the effects of sin and mental illness believing their only solace is to take their own lives. I'm tired of churches where people don't talk about real issues and can't freely confess sins. I want my divorced friends, my childless friends, my homosexual friends, my addicted friends (lets be honest that most everyone we know, in some way, including ourselves) to run freely to the church (read: Body of Christ) because we freely hand out radical grace.

I don't want another Isaac Hunter story in my city. Instead I want churches, and small groups, and Christians to create a culture where we freely confess our sins and find grace and community. A culture that allows others to stand up and say, "me too."
"And as people increasingly leave the Church, often over issues such as these, it is becoming more urgent that the Church talk about how to care for every one of its members...And as we talk about them, we must remember to address them with humility, understanding and grace, keeping in mind our role as fellow hospital patients, not museum curators." -Zach Perkins

Monday, December 9, 2013

3 Reasons Why Missional Living is Easier at Christmastime

The holidays are upon us and in my experience you’re either feeling overjoyed by all the parties, presents, and events, or you’re feeling overwhelmed and ready for it all to be over. Either way, you have a list that you’re adding to regularly. The good news is that missional living is not another item to add to your list.

Missional living is a lifestyle that involves doing what you’re already doing ( ie. grocery shopping, raising kids, working a job, being involved in your community, etc.) with intention. Being missional means living as a missionary in your current context and season of life. 

Missional living is way of life and not a task to complete. Missional living is not random acts of kindness although those can be incorporated into your lifestyle. Missional living is not serving other Christians. Rick Warren distinguishes service to other Christians as ministry and service to the lost as outreach. While the Bible clearly calls us to love and serve other Christians, it is important to distinguish that fulfilling the Great Commission begins with lost people. Jesus make it clear in Matthew 9:12 that he came for the sick and not the well. Likewise, our missional lives should involve relationships with lost people otherwise we are not being missional at all.

Continue reading over at Missional Women to discover why it's easier to be missional at Christmas time. Join me there today?