Saturday, December 24, 2005

Church Closed for Christmas

My heart aches as I read articles quoting believers condemning churches who are not having services on Christmas Day.

Romans 4 seems to speak to the issue of differences among believers. The thing that breaks my heart is that Satan is using good church leaders to make our differences a stumbling block for those who could be seeing the body of Christ glorified.

Matthew 18 gives clear instruction on how to approach a fellow believer when one sees a weakness that needs to be addressed. Even in that scripture, I don’t see any room for condemnation. Galatians 6 reminds those “who are spiritual” to restore their brother/sister gently. It also warns to be careful that you don’t fall into sin yourself in the process.

Why do we allow the secular media to make a case between those who are to be united by the One who is greater than all things? Maybe we assume that everyone is a believer.

I read James 4 this morning and realized why I get so upset at my children. My anger and frustrations come from not getting what I want. I read this chapter to my family and prayed that the Holy Spirit would do the instructing.

Throughout the day I have attempted to weave the lessons God spoke to me from James 4 into my children’s day. I ask them why they are arguing. It’s almost always because they don’t get what they want. I remind them to ask God and if they still don’t get it then they most likely are asking with wrong motives.

As for tattle-telling, James 4:11 says “do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother (or sister) or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?”

My kids are brother and sister. I don’t want them to tattle on each other. Not because I want them to get away with inappropriate behavior, not at all. I want them to learn to be united. To encourage each other in doing right. To recognize that they are two individuals with different interests, abilities, desires but together they are family. Bringing me into their arguments, causes division not to mention spoils the opportunity to learn from each other’s different perspective.

Perhaps that is why God gave us family. Family is not just for our pleasure. Our earthly family is God’s school room to teach us how his family should get along.

Remember when you were a kid and your sibling seemed to have a different version of the same story when you got in trouble? Most news stories don’t have enough time or space to get all the information across.

The next time you don’t understand why your brother or sister in Christ (or a mega church) is doing something different than you, call someone you know personally who understands that perspective. You might be amazed at how God can use another group of believers so differently from the direction he has led you.

The church I know that is not having services on Christmas will have outstanding celebration at Friday and Saturday services. Their desire is to reach out and introduce Christ to those who are seeking answers for life. That is not the mission of every church and they do not condemn churches whose primary purpose is to offer a gathering and teaching place for believers.

Five years in the midst of that mindset provided God’s training ground to teach me to worship God in unity with believers and in the midst of non-believers in everyday life so that the world will know God sent Christ. (John 17:23) Isn’t that really what Christmas is about?

Happy Holidays to all regardless of your faith. May you discover how Christ can make every day of your life merry as he has done for me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Give us this day our daily bread.

Do I mean it when I pray those words? Do I even know what a daily portion is?

In this wealthy culture we often hear people referred to as savers or spenders. It seems God works it out so those two opposites join together in friendships and in marriage. I have always been a saver. My husband is more inclined to appreciate the daily gifts as something to be applied daily.

Over nearly fifteen years of marriage God has united us in our use of his provisions. I have learned that saving money simply for the sake of saving is meaningless and lacks faith in God’s daily provision. My “spender” husband has taught me to enjoy today’s provisions today.
My husband has learned that spending only today’s portion is more enjoyable than trying to obtain tomorrow’s provisions today. Just like the Israelites manna from heaven, there are days that God gives more than a one day supply and it is intended to be saved for tomorrow.

I’m thankful for our combined personalities and our open communication that makes our God-designed differences benefit not only our family but those around us. It is a blessing to be able to share our “daily bread” with others. The daily bread encompasses much more than money and material possessions.

God’s mercies are new each morning. There was a time in my life where I stored up God’s mercy for myself. I have learned the joy of offering mercy to those around me.

Moses was the conduit for much of God’s provision to the Israelites. The birth of Jesus is God's provision for all our tomorrows. His Spirit has been given to those who truly believe that he is the only one who provides and determines our daily portions.

Immanuel. God is with us today. Wow. He gives us everything we need for life and godliness, today. How meaningless it is to try to accumulate his infinite provisions. How foolish to try to use tomorrow’s provisions as if what he gives today is not enough.

For both the spender and the saver God says, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Matthew 6:25-35 (New Living Translation)
"So I tell you, don't worry about everyday life--whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn't life consist of more than food and clothing? Look at the birds. They don't need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not.

"And why worry about your clothes? Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won't he more surely care for you? You have so little faith!

"So don't worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.

"So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today.

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalms 118:24

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Jesus, Jesus
Can I tell you how I feel?
You have given us your Spirit
I love you so

com·mun·ion (k-mynyn) The act or an instance of sharing, as of thoughts or feelings. ETYMOLOGY: from Latin, mutual participation

Communion is a part of every Christian church. Jesus instituted what we now call communion the night before he was crucified. Holy Communion is a time when Christ followers reflect on what Jesus did for them.

I have taken the bread and the wine (or grape juice) in remembrance of Christ more times than I can count. And most every time, it is a very personal experience between me and God. Even though there may be hundreds of others taking communion around me, I have not thought of it as an act of sharing or mutual participation. My thoughts focus on the death of Jesus. His body: broken and beaten for me. His blood: poured out for me.

Recently, I participated in a communion celebration where God opened my eyes to a new perspective. My husband and I were seated in the front row where we were a bit in the way. It was this awkward position that allowed me to see what I have never seen before.

The words of Jesus in John 6 have intrigued me for some time. In verse 25, Jesus begins talking about the people doing his work. Many of his followers turned away at the thought of eating his flesh and drinking his blood as a requirement for doing his work. Jesus compares himself to the manna given to the Israelites, God’s chosen people, when they were in the desert.

The manna which God provided to the Jewish nation gave them life. Without it they would have starved to death. If you don’t know the details, read it. (see Exodus 16) It’s a great miracle and depiction of God as our perfect provider. Other nations recognized the Israelites because of God’s provision and protection.

At the recent communion celebration, I saw communion as an instance of sharing the experience. In this group, everyone in line places their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them. After taking the bread and the juice, they turn to place their hands on the next few who take the bread and juice after them.

Do you see the picture yet? Christ died so that we would live in communion with each other and with him. He is the source of life and He is the common element that makes us a community. Yeah, yeah. That’s been head knowledge for me for years. But the reality of it has just sunk to my heart. And, wow, is it cool!

Jesus instructed his disciples to remember him whenever they ate the bread and drank the wine in this celebration. This was extremely significant to the Jewish nation. He was saying “I am the awaited Messiah.” He had come to his people.

God was with the Israelites in the desert when he gave them manna. But now, he is with us in a different way. Because of Jesus, God gives us an internal source of life. The manna in the desert was external. The cloud and pillar of fire were external ways that God provided life and guidance. Those external elements set the Israelites apart from other nations.

Communion is not about Christ dwelling just in me. Communion is a reminder that the Messiah has come and he offers himself to any who will take him.

Christ died for our sins. We are restored in relationship with God through his resurrection. Jesus ascended into heaven so that the Spirit which was his source of life – as blood is to the physical body – could be Life to those in the flesh who unite to be his flesh today.

Christ alone was the fullness of God. Without Christ, I am nothing. And without communion with other believers, it’s going to be very difficult for others to see the presence of God today.

We who believe are carefully joined together, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.

Ephesians 2:21

the mission:
PROCLAIM the good news; HEAL the sick and oppressed; BRING JUSTICE
~ Luke 4:16-20

Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing (John 14:12)
~ Jesus 

Copyright 2005-2010 Lisa Biggs Crum
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