Archive for December, 2013

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Twas the day after Christmas and all through the house; not a creature was stirring except for the mouse.
The women were shopping, the men hunting deer; knowing that next came the exciting new year.
Gift cards were given, burning holes in youngs’ jeans; while the thought of young Jesus faded to dreams.
The focus had changed just after one day; with remnants of Christmas gone by the way.
Jesus still sleeps wrapped up in a manger; just a baby to all and to some still a stranger.
He’ll grow up in God and be known by many names; Teacher, Rabbi, but as Savior he came.
He came not for fortune or focus on him; but to speak truth into the life of all men.
This truth is still truth being spoken all around; that Jesus is Messiah and wears a thorned crown.
He’s alive and active, saving those in need; no matter the season, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve.
Call on his name and claim him as Lord; worship him daily while serving the world.
He seeks all the earth and wants all the praise; He is King of all Kings and Ancient of Days.
Alpha Omega Beginning and End, thank God in baby form, a Savior did he send.

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School Bus 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since it is getting closer to Christmas time, it seems as though the students on the bus are talking more and more about materialistic things.  Recently I had an overflow of stuffed animals join the ride home.  The students will also wish to bring action figures (they’re not dolls!) on the bus and small cars to play with.

Usually these things can be kept at bay but last week there was an argument that ensued.  For Christmas one of the students said they were going to get a swimming pool!  They were very excited about it.  No, it doesn’t matter that they will be unable to use it for a number of months…it’s still a swimming pool!

Thus the argument erupted.  One student said, “I have a swimming pool!”  Then, not to be outdone by other students, another student says, “I have 2 swimming pools!”  The other students look at them, pause for a moment, and say almost simultaneously, “No you don’t!”  And they are correct.  That student most certainly does not have 2 swimming pools at their house.  In fact, there is not even 1 swimming pool.  So why say that?  Why even go there?  The other students already knew the swimming pool count for one another, why lie?

Comparison.  A dangerous game.  Be it comparing swimming pools, Halloween costumes, toys, phones, or a number of other things; comparison can lead to arguments, fights, and broken relationships.

One of the biggest downfalls of all Christians everywhere from China to Africa to the United States, is comparing themselves with other Christians.  By doing this, growth and maturity is stunted.

This has become very prevalent working with youth.  It is easy to see a lot of potential in each student, but ultimately it is up to the student to decide to pursue excellence, or settle for mediocrity.  Often they choose to be mediocre in their faith because they believe they have reached the best it is going to be.  They think, by looking at other students around them, that they have found the pinnacle of faith that a youth can have.

When this happens, growth ceases.  Satisfaction creeps in.  The true ultimate faith, faith to change landscapes and faith to change hearts, has disappeared from their mind.

Is this limited only to students?  Of course not.  There are a number of adults in our churches that have used comparison techniques to satisfy their own selfish pride.  They lift themselves up through comparison, when in actuality, it tears them down from the inside.

They are stunting their growth.

If comparison were to be forgotten, if comparison between Christians did not exist, we would see a group of believers that try to get as close as possible to God.  There would be no line to get to.  There would be no standard besides Jesus Christ himself.

We count ourselves and others short when we compare.  Not all people learn the same.  Not all mature at the same time.  Not all reach the goal the same way.  Let us stop comparing our faith with other Christians on television, with pastors that have hundreds of thousands of Facebook friends or Twitter followers, with fellow church members that carry bigger Bibles to prayer meetings.

Let our focus not be on other peoples’ faith, but our own.  Let us look at our relationship with the One True God and let him be our focus.

Let us pursue him with all we have.  With no reservation, no comparison, no stopping.

1 Timothy 6:11-12 “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things.  Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

School Bus 6

There is a young boy on the noon bus route I drive that tells me often that his dad is in fact a werewolf.  Usually when he tells me, this phrase comes in waves.  It is never a one-time phrase, but is more like a barrage of “My dad’s a werewolf” covering the last 15 minutes of the bus ride.  I have asked him about this a couple of times.  I’ve asked, “Have you seen your dad be a werewolf?” He answered, with a large grin, “No, he only turns into one when bad guys are outside.  He protects me and my other brother from them.”  Then I asked, “Are you scared of him?”  His reply, “No! He’s awesome!  He’s a werewolf!”

Young kids can be quite entertaining but also easily swayed.  My father, who is not a werewolf (I don’t think), works as a headmaster at a private Episcopalian school.  (He has a couple blogs also if you are interested: http://adminformationcentral.wordpress.com/ & http://fairlysmart.wordpress.com)  I have witnessed him play off of the fact that kids are easily convinced of things.  I have heard him tell students that their teacher has a glass eye and encourage them to figure out which one it is.  There have been times when he tried to convince students that other teachers are hiding tails under their clothes or animals in their classroom.  The point being that it can be quite fun, if not taken overboard, convincing students of the illogical.

As adults, we look at these things and laugh.  He think, “How could they really believe that?”  “I would never be swayed so easily now that I have matured.”

But I would ask, “Are sure you are not easily swayed?

In Ephesians, Paul touches on unity and growing up as the body of Christ.  He encourages growth in our faith and knowledge of Christ, taking us away from being “children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (Ephesians 4:14 ESV) 

This time of year there are always various beliefs being thrown around.  Christmas can be celebrated and enjoyed in a variety of ways.  From a materialistic Christmas to the polar opposite of denying one’s self of gifts, it is easy to be swept up in the different beliefs.

This Christmas, ask yourself, “Am I be tossed to and fro by the waves of Christmas?  Do I easily loose distraction of the true light of Christmas when walking down the Christmas decoration isle at the store?  Am I being easily convinced that Christmas is about lights, presents, family, or movie characters rather than Christ?”

Ephesians 4:15, the next verse, says “Rather speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” (ESV) 

Physical growth does not always mean spiritual growth.

We are supposed to mature in our faith.  We are to grow up in every way.  We are to establish our faith in Christ and Christ alone.  Be it Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, or Groundhog Day, our firm foundation is the Rock.

You may not be as easily swayed into believing your dad is a werewolf, but I caution you not to believe that you are invincible from being swayed.  There are such things as “human cunning” and “craftiness in deceitful schemes;” do not be tossed by these winds.

I end with Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians in chapter 3 verses 14-19 “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

In Christ’s Love,
Josh