Tag Archives: Luke 4

Finding More in Christmas

a-little-bit-more

I spent yesterday running errands for the church, visiting a friend in the hospital, running too and fro and fro and too, and then rushed into the church for Wednesday night youth group. I listened to preaching as my tires rolled merrily down the highway, and spent a little time just listening to the tires roll. I just enjoyed being away from the hustle, bustle of life and tried to make sense of how Christmas gets so messed up, even when you don’t want it to. My focus gets off kilter as I attempt to wrap Christmas up and tie it with a bow, wanting to make someone’s season bright. Yes, I know that’s not what Christmas is about, please don’t judge me… or anyone else for that matter. But for this moment in time, while it’s on our heart let’s reconsider Christmas and shift our way of thinking about the meaning of Christmas…

Jesus said in Luke 4:18-19

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

He’d spoken in the synagogue before that day, but that day His words were about to shift that city’s way of thinking, and mine today. We know that Christmas is more than the cradle, we know that that is only where the story began. It ended at the cross with God’s final, one time gift which covered the sins of all who would believe on Him. But between the cradle and the cross God sat an example of everyday Christmas that we miss. He didn’t come so we’d have a nice story to tell, He came so we’d have a nice story to live out.

Prior to the Savior’s birth God had been silent for 400 years. I panic when I don’t hear from God for a day or two, imagine 400 years! No miracles were happening, no “thus saith the Lord messages.” Just silence. I’d venture a guess that many clung to the miracles of old and told the stories again and again to remind themselves of what God had done for them in the past. They’d tell the next generation and would tell them of the promised Messiah. Perhaps it was the darkest of age because the light of hope could barely be seen. By the time the Christmas story began Roman rule governed the land. Israel was in bondage not only physically but spiritually as well. An oppressed people. And then came Jesus that day in the temple…

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me – He came with the power of God. He’d been tempted by Satan who no doubt stomped off in defeat, figuring He could sell ice to the Eskimos but couldn’t convince Jesus of anything. Jesus was God. He knew Satan’s game plan from the beginning.

He came to preach the gospel to the poor – Not the poor in finance, but the poor in spirit. In their oppressed state of life they needed hope and so do we. Religion is a repetitive action, Christ was about to kick religion out of the church and bring in the relationship.

He came to heal the brokenhearted. Tell me of a better Christmas gift than a mended heart? The world is filled with heartbreak. Some of it over the silliest of things, and some of it is gut-wrenching. But Jesus is the answer to all. In these uncertain days for which we live, we should be looking for opportunities to share the gift of Christ to broken hearted people.

He came to deliver the captives. I feel somewhat delivered myself this Christmas. As I was out and about yesterday I was wished a “Merry Christmas” by numerous businesses in West Virginia and Ohio. Glory to God!!!! I’ve missed that. We’ve been held captive in our own country for the past eight years when it came to Christian expression. The world didn’t want it. But God created the world and He has created us an opportunity. Wish someone Merry Christmas!

He gave sight to the blind. Not just physically but spiritually. This Christmas we have the opportunity to open the eyes of the blind by sharing the gospel of Christ. The angel which shared the glad tidings of great joy in Luke 2:10 said it was for all people. But the angel went back to Heaven, now it’s our turn to spread those good tidings!

He came to set at liberty those who are bruised. Tears threaten my eyes when I think about those hurting while I have a warm house and a family who loves me. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the holidays and forget the purpose of Christianity. Christianity doesn’t begin or end on December 25. It’s a 365 day of the year task that we’ve been given until Jesus returns. It’s our job to meet a need, mend the broken, and most of all mention the Savior. We’re failing miserably as a church… our grade will improve when we began doing something individually.

He came to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. Perhaps this is our year to make a difference and bring more and more people into the Kingdom of God. Perhaps this is the year He’ll return. Perhaps not.

That ‘little bit more” that the Grinch found that Christmas is still being searched for by most of the world. We have it… we need to share it.

Hometown Boots on the Ground

boots on the ground

Ephesians 6:15

And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace

On Wednesday I traveled back from my Minnesota journey for fifteen hours in the car. Other than the necessitated pit stops I drove with purpose and without music or preaching which is usually what I occupy my mind with when traveling. But I wanted to hear from God, which was still difficult when my mind has trouble shutting up, it’s such a chatty Cathy! But what I discovered on my journey to my friend Dewey’s Hometown was that Windom, Minnesota and Grantsville, West Virginia have the same common thread running through their tapestry. It’s a raveling. It’s a thread that’s gotten disconnected from its garment. It’s still attached but it yet it’ loose. It’s not holding anything together, it’s just there. I think that’s a very good analogy of the church.

So as I’m driving… and driving… and driving. God keeps putting that hometown thought into my mind.

We’ve become disconnected from our communities. It’s very easy to say that the community is not our concern. It’s our job to be a light for Jesus! Yes, yes it is. And yet when Jesus was His own light in the towns that He was going to, He wasn’t just in the church house.

He was at the well

  • … at a wedding
  • … at the fishing hole
  • … meeting Nicodemus outside of business hours
  • … in people’s homes
  • … in the grain field
  • … in the cemetery

Every place He went was viewed as an opportunity to serve; and I think that’s where the disconnect comes into place in the church. We’ve bought the lie of Satan that church has no place in the secular world, and yet that’s the very place we’re told to take the gospel of Christ. We forget that the church is not a building, it’s a person. A person with a story and a purpose exclusively belonging to Christ, no matter where you are.

I’m fully aware that we cannot preach the gospel in a classroom. However, we can train our children to walk in the light of Christ and share Him with their friends. Most jobs forbid evangelism in the work place, but they usually don’t mind one iota if you live like Christ on the job. They call it ethics, we call it faith. Nursing homes, prisons and hospitals love our kind and usually welcome us with open arms, and yet we seldom go.

That’s the talk God had with me on my way home. “Shari, you’re going back to your hometown, what are you going to do there to make a difference? How are you going to motivate people and reconnect with your community?” And in my earthly wisdom I said to Him, “But God, they’ll not want to hear what I have to say.”

Oh, He fully understood.

Luke 4:24

And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.

“Now what your excuse?” I ask myself.  I didn’t have one. But I do have a hometown,, and so do you. And we are without excuse in evangelizing it, starting at the house and working way out.

So I’m working on a way to reconnect the raveling that’s been hanging from my church skirt. I want to prepare the way for Christ’s return like John the Baptist did for his arrival in town the first time. My first step is look for resources… and then I want to get this party started.

Why Baptist don’t do lent… and other things

chick dance

Baptist don’t drink, dance, cuss or chew… okay, yes they do. They’re either really bad at hiding things or they just don’t care. Or perhaps they consider themselves liberal Baptist. Is there such a thing? Yes… they’re called backsliders. Oh dear, did I even go there? I’m not going to get into a debate about the morality of those things or any other things, or get up on a Baptist high-horse and say those things are the ruination of a nation. The ruination of our nation is a sin problem… enter your sin here [          ]. We’ve all got them. So what does that have to do with why Baptist don’t do lent?

Here’s my theory. And this is the theory according to Shari and carries no weight in the world, but I found it to be an interesting thought this morning, encouraged from the Facebook post of a friend of another denomination who was giving up social media for 40 days. My first thought was… God bless her! I’m glad I don’t celebrate Lent, or I’d feel bad. Because I’m a social media junky. I have a love/hate relationship with people disciplined enough to give up the things they love for a period of time. Because for me this is a big spiritual issue. I know there are things that need more discipline in my life and those people make me feel bad. And then to counteract the guilt I have about them, I think about the legalistic people who do “things” 365 days of the year and look down their religious noses at failures like me and I don’t feel bad anymore about not “doing” something. Because Jesus is not about the doing.

So why don’t Baptist do Lent? I personally think it’s because it’s a little too Catholic. I’m not going to get into a denomination bashing blog. I’m not about that. Do I think there will be Catholics in Heaven? Yes. So long as they get there the way Jesus said. But much of the Catholic faith is based on ritualistic living and not Christ relational living and that’s just wrong any way you look at it from the Bible perspective.

Now, back to my failures.

In Luke 4:1-13 we read that the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness for forty days of fasting and temptation in much the same way God led the Israelites into the desert for forty years of wanderings. Lent is forty days of self-denial, although I don’t see any one doing it on the level of Christ. (Luke 4:1) Cut off from all of society, no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. #HashtagAreYouSerious? (4:2-4) In the wilderness. #HashtagItsCold&BearsBite! Tempted by Satan, without preacher and church support.  #HashtagSinWaitingToHappen? Without food. #HashtagDoYouDeliver? (4:5-8) No Position in life. #HashtagIt’sNotAboutMe? (4:9-13) Facing the temptations of life without giving in. #HashtagDidIJustDoThat?

Lent is serious business. And I respect the decision of those who determine to do a Christ honoring denial of something. It’s not a Baptist thing… it’s technically not a Methodist, Catholic or Episcopalian thing. Anything that we give up in honor of Christ is a child of God thing. It’s not necessary, its “another way” to worship. The issue comes when it’s done for discipline sake and not relationship sake.

The harsh reality for me is I could use some discipline in my life in a number of facets. Building a relationship with Christ is a 365 day trek in the wilderness. Satan doesn’t limit it to 40 days. For those of you celebrating Lent, I love you… but you’re making me look bad. I pray today finds us all in relationally living with the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you know Him? Contact me if you don’t, I’ll show you where to meet Him!

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