Peace on Earth

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In this season of Advent, we are called to live our lives as worship glorifying the Almighty God, in this way we honor the coming of the Christ, ushering in the coming of the Kingdom of God on Earth. The first call of man, the first act of worship for which humanity was called was to take care of creation.

Genesis 1:28-31 ESV
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

God gave us everything we needed, and in return he wanted us to take care of the creation. During Advent, many of us put up Christmas trees, and under those trees we put the gifts we give to one another. We really want those gifts to be something that our loved ones will want and think they are good. How about we start thinking about how much devastation is caused due to deforestation? How about we look into what we are doing to the gift that God has given to us? Even though we have been given the whole Earth, we must be faithful to God and take care of the gift that we have been given freely. The gifts are very good, much greater than anything we could even think of getting for any of our loved ones. The entirety of creation is much better than an iPad. Unfortunately, I know that I have thought much more about taking care of my iPad or other things than I have thought about taking care of the Earth. Living out our lives in worship, caring for creation, allows us to bring peace to Earth.  

Isaiah 2:4 ESV
He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.

God calls us toward using the instruments we once used for destruction, but rather to use them to cultivate the resources of the Almighty’s wonderfully good gifts. By doing this, we can be instruments of peace, and further be faithful to the gift, and honor the gift-giver. Peace on Earth is a call to usher in the Kingdom of God by honoring the gift of creation.

God Came, Therefore I Know Christ Is Coming

Eagerly we anticipate this season. Thanksgiving has past, and now the decorations go up, houses get lit up, parties get planned, cookies are baked, and we begin to get ready for the Christmas holiday. Commercially, this is the season of spending, this is the season where we see how well our economy is doing. We purchase gifts for loved ones, and others to whom we feel obligated. Debt is accumulated. Weight is gained. Consumerism is filing the air. This is the backdrop of contrast that we find Advent.

Spiritually, this is the season where we celebrate and commemorate the coming of Christ as an infant, and prepare our hearts for the second-coming of Christ. So much of the skepticism regarding the second coming focus on the empty manger.

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However, God’s promise about the coming salvation came in the form of an infant. Unexpected in form, but a promise fulfilled. This serves as a warning for us about our preconceived notions about the form of God’s fulfilled promises. What we need to focus upon is the fact that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, therefore I know God is coming back, because the character of God is the same as it was 2000 years ago when Jesus was born in a manger in Bethlehem.

When we look at this in reference to the commercial hope surrounding the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there is plenty of contrasts. Commercial hope depends on what we do, how much we spend, how much we decorate, and how much we do. This is empty hope, because it is uncertain, and hope that is uncertain is not hope at all.

In this season of Advent, I will focus upon the consistency of God. My hope is assured in the fact that the Advent of the Almighty God is happening because it happened. Stay on your toes, and don’t lose hope. May God be celebrated and worshipped, for God’s hope (elpis) is eager anticipation of what is certain.

So Many Things To Do, So Little Time (Christmas Eve Edition)

It is here.

It has come like the kid playing hide-and-seek who has just finished counting, and has begun the search for those hiding, proclaiming, “ready or not, here I come!”

“Oh no, I never finished putting the decorations up!”

“I’ve got to get to the mall and finish my Christmas shopping.”

“This house is a mess, I have to get it clean!”

“Those presents aren’t going to wrap themselves.”

“There is so much to do, and I have so little time to accomplish it!”

These thoughts are the thoughts of a frantic person that has probably procrastinated on getting their Christmas tasks completed, and is now stressing out over their inability to complete the task list. This person is me. Maybe I am continuing the procrastination by taking time to write this blog, since I have not written any since the month began. (Another thing on the list that got pushed to the side.)

This stress level is proof positive that I have failed to keep perspective on the season. A season that started so promising, as we got the tree up the week after Thanksgiving. My son’s help was fantastic, as he made sure the candy canes were placed perfectly, and all of his favorite ornaments were in the same place. This was fun and helped me focus on the fact that I have been blessed with a marvelous 3-year-old, and watching the Christmas excitement in his eyes has been marvelous.

However, that was where the peace and time to just be in the season started to fade, as one thing led to another, and stress and to do lists began to take over. I don’t think it is unique to the time around Christmas, but it seems to be amplified by the fact that there is one day where everything happens, and judging by the way stores look the week after x-mas, the season ends, off to the next holiday.

Well here I am, trying to gain more perspective. This season is about the eager anticipation of the coming of the savior of the world: A savior who has come to us first as a vulnerable baby, a savior that remains with us to guide us through the Holy Spirit, and a savior who promised to come again! It isn’t about lists or calendars, it is about breathing in deep the breath of God, and allowing our hearts to let go of hustle and bustle, and rest in the fact that the Creator of the Universe loves you, and provides more joys, more presents, and more love than any man in a Red Suit.

So I wish you all a Merry Christmas, let us celebrate, and I encourage you to take a deep breath today!

Thankfulness

Happy Day After Thanksgiving!

Many people like to refer to this day as “Black Friday”, because of all the shopping that goes on, and stores go into “the black” for the year, but I really wish we would just focus on the things that we have to be thankful for this year.

I am thankful for my family, for the friends that are so close that they are family, and for the people that have impacted my life in special ways. I am thankful for a job, and a roof over my head. I am thankful for all sorts of provision that has guided and guarded me in the past year. I am thankful that I live in this country, and I am free to speak my mind, and free to move, and free from many of the world’s vulnerabilities. Most of all, I am thankful that I have a relationship with a loving God that loves me more than I will ever know.

I appreciate Advent as we enter after thanksgiving. Let us prepare for the arrival of the King of Kings, by being thankful that the Lord of Lords has given us so much for which to be thankful. Let us think about those things as we enter into this season.