The Spirit of Christmas

What is being in the Christmas Spirit? Is it being geared up to shop or decorate? Is it having an attitude of cheerfulness and wonder? Is it being merry and festive? While the attitude is nice, those things are sometimes just put on by people because they feel that it is expected of them to be cheerful during “the season.” The decorating and the shopping are the ‘fluff’ of the season. But what is the true spirit of Christmas? The word Christmas literally means the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. So if we are celebrating his birth, then why? Who is Jesus to us and what impact has he had on our lives? 

Unto you

For me, Jesus is the reason we celebrate Christmas, but it shouldn’t only be an annual celebration, it should be an ongoing year round jubilee. Without Jesus, we wouldn’t have eternal life or life more abundantly.  Jesus IS Life and Love. He came to produce life, and extinguish death. He died on the cross so that we (everyone) has a chance to have Eternal Life! And we do this simply by asking him to be our Savior and committing our lives to follow him. Jesus Lived and Loved as he walked on this earth and he is Living through us today, if we have accepted him. That alone should give us cause to celebrate! Anyone who has accepted Jesus as their Savior, carries the Spirit of the Living God within them. We are carrying Christmas, we are carrying the season wherever we go. But how many of us act like it? 

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10

The True Spirit of Christmas has nothing to do with the peripheral things of shopping, decorating, or putting on an attitude. We add those by the traditions of man. The true Spirit of Christmas has everything to do with being in an attitude of loving, giving, showing mercy and grace, and reaching out to others. When we share love to our fellow man, when we carry the example of peace, and bring others to the Kingdom, then we are IN the Spirit of Christmas Every day of Our Lives. You can carry it and so can I. We should go out and greet others in that peace and love each day and then we are IN the Spirit of Christmas all year long, living the life more abundantly. 

Perfect Love Overcomes Hate

I haven’t written in a while because I’ve been mulling over the hatred in this world. I’ve been a victim of hatred by people that hate me unjustly. There is no reason that they should hate me. I’ve done nothing to them, except share a few meals and socialize a few times. I can’t understand their vitriol towards me. In trying to understand their hatred, I’ve studied the Bible and I’ve read psychiatric articles, with some understanding. My response is not to hate them back, but to pray for them from a distance.

This world is full of unjust hatred though. I’m not alone. For instance the unjust racial hatred. Ive never been a victim of racial hatred and my mother and my grandparents raised me not to see differences in race. I don’t think that way, I think of everyone as a one race, because we are all in this world together.

Another form of hatred I’ve become aware of is hatred of those in position of power or political office. I don’t belong to either main party in the US and I’ve seen the Republicans tear down our last president in mean and demeaning ways. Now I see the Democrats tearing down our current president. I’m not here to take a stance for either party or man. But why do people hate?!

I recall a time when I used the word hate on my mom when I was very young because I didn’t get my way. As I was sent to my room, I lashed out with the word hate. Who knows where I heard it, because it wasn’t in my mother’s vocabulary. That day, I learned the negative impacts of hate! My mother calmly called me down the stairs and asked if I wanted her to die! I was horrified at the thought!! Of course I said no, and she explained to me that to hate someone is to wish they were dead, that the word ‘hate’ was vile and detestable and should only be used for the most evil things in the world. She told me it was okay to hate bad things, like sin. I took the word hate out of my vocabulary that day. She also said that being angry was human, but as Christians we must learn to control what annoys us. Other people should not be hated and should not anger us to the point of lashing out, because we can remove ourselves from bad situations most of the time. I cannot remember ever hating anyone. But I have been the victim of jealousy and greed that turned into hatred towards me more than once.

1 John 3:15 Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.

1 John 4:20-21 If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.

Proverbs 6:16-19 There are six things the LORD hates-no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family.

The Bible tells us that we cannot hate our fellow man and still love God; it’s as if we are murderers. We would be murderers of God’s own, because God is no respecter of persons and loves each and every one of us. If we hate anyone else, we are sinning against those whom God loves. God hates the sin of pride and self-righteousness, gossiping, running to tell others things we cannot prove, plotting bad things to happen to others, or wishing they were ill or dead, he detests liars and those who stir up trouble in families.

As I read psychiatric articles to understand why people hate, I learned many times it comes from feelings of being different, jealousy, or envy. People hate what is not like them, but there are also times that people hate what is most like them, because they don’t like or accept themselves. This usually comes from someone who didn’t feel loved or accepted as a child. Sometimes people hate as a sense of belonging to a group of like minded people or for a need to fit in. This is also from a void in a person’s life. They join a group of haters, sometimes very small in number, because they have a cause they believe in, however misguided. Hatred is a distraction from emptiness, feelings of unworthiness, self-loathing, and loneliness. Hatred empowers some people and allows them to maintain a distance. It disenfranchises them from living life fully because that is too scary for them. They hold on to their inner hurt and hate others instead of dealing with their own inner turmoil. They lash out at what they cannot control and show anger as a sense of empowerment.

But these are not Christian attributes of love, joy, peace, and long suffering. The Holy Spirit can guide us into healing from hatred with love. What can all those feelings be replaced with? The fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; which all displace hatred and anger. That doesn’t mean we have to like how others live around us, but we don’t talk about them incessantly and complain and we certainly won’t hate them. Because whether they know Jesus or not, he certainly knows them and wants them to come to know him. Another way to deal with hatred and anger towards an individual is to pray for them earnestly. This is true of our leaders, and we are instructed to do this in the Bible. With the Holy Spirit’s guidance Love will dispel hate!

Ephesians 4:29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

John 13:34-35 “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Perfect Love gives us the ability to be healed from past hurts. It sets us free from pains we’ve endured throughout our lives. This love only comes from having Jesus Christ as our Savior and by the Holy Spirit guiding us each day, each moment of our lives. Let love dispel any hate, any jealousy, any greed, or sin we may be holding onto, so we can lead the life God intended for us. May we pray for all who have hatred toward us and show them his mercy and love. May God give us grace to show love and grace to those who may rub us the wrong way and remove any offense we feel.

What Value Do I Have?

Self-worth is a heady subject, no pun intended, but it’s one that needs to be addressed. This morning after another popular celebrity committed suicide, I saw a statistic that 45,000 Americans committed suicide last year. That statistic was quoted as a ‘trend’ that is up from years past. Another trend that has been pervading the United States is to be an atheist. I’ve heard from people who grew up in families, who went to church that they just aren’t sure about the whole “God thing.” The same people ask me or my friends, who they think have a connection to God, to pray when they are in need. It doesn’t matter, I’ll gladly pray for them, because I went through the questions myself many years ago and determined that there was way too much evidence that God Does Exist than that he does not. No matter which camp you’re in; we all search. I believe God is present and does care for us, so let me share with you what I think my value and your value is as a person. 

God created humans for relationship, with each other and with him. When a person does not have relationship with God, he or she is missing a piece of their lives and they search and continue to search their entire lives for that missing piece, unless or until they find God. That is why we see seemingly very successful people such as actors, chefs, designers, millionaires, etc. commit suicide. Sadly, they have not made peace or found peace with their creator. They’ve searched for peace and fulfillment in careers, relationships, money, alcohol, and drugs and they have not found the peace they desire. They won’t find it without a constant and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s just beyond their fingertips and they’re usually the ones who fight it the hardest. Another group that fight God and can be the hardest won cases are usually the intelligentsia. I happen to be amongst this crowd. I don’t say that in a bragging way, but sometimes our minds get in the way of our faith. We prefer to prove things, rather than just believe. We want hard physical evidence, yet it’s all around us, in the sunrise and sunset, in nature and the geometry of a flower. It’s in the way science works and our bodies are uniquely created. When we realize God IS, we start to see it everywhere; the wonder of the creator and the amazing genius behind his creation. What we once deemed as a ‘bad’ bug has benefits that we haven’t discovered, but eventually do with our limited minds. God’s mind is infinite. We cannot contain all that he has, but we learn, and continue to learn all that he has for us, if we are willing. 

dove of peace

In the same way we learn the mysteries of the world around us, hopefully we learn the value of ourselves and how important we are to him and those around us. We may think that if we didn’t exist it wouldn’t change a thing, but there is a chain reaction that we never see if we take our lives in our own hands and end it. We are valuable, not only to our family, no matter how scorned we may be or have been, we are valuable to God. It doesn’t matter what hidden things we have in our lives, God knows them all and still accepts us. There is not anything that keeps us from His Love! He created each one of us with a purpose and a destiny. We have a destiny to fulfill on this earth and he wants a relationship with us. But we must put our preconceived notions of God being angry or disappointed in us away, because that is not who he is. He accepts us exactly as we are, who we are, where we are. Sinner, saint, drunk, sober, smart, stupid, addict, or free; all are welcome in his loving arms that are full of peace. Peace that man cannot understand until we enter them without reservation and by humbling ourselves with the trust and faith of a child. Picture how trusting little children are, how they don’t see good from bad. Children don’t perceive the things we do as adults, because they haven’t been hurt, if they’ve been raised in a loving home. Picture them running into a stranger’s arms willingly and then run to God’s open arms in the same trusting way. He’s waiting. He’s there to fulfill that piece of the puzzle you won’t find anywhere else. He’s there to give you value and call you his child, his beloved. God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, will comfort you and give you all that you need to feel worthy and loved where others have failed you. Then get into the Bible and study it daily and ask God to reveal to you what he wants you to hear in your reading. Don’t let this world and the people and pressures of life make you feel that you are not worthy because you are. You’re worthy to me and to Jesus. You are LOVED!! You have Merit, you have Worth! If you are a Christian who struggles with self-worth, remember to think on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and worthy of praise; as Paul instructs in Philippians 4:8, because anything else is a lie.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” – Mark 10:15

And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus. – Ephesians 3:6

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7