5 Abundant Life Realities

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I’m sure you want to enjoy an abundant life.  I know I sure do.  Truth be told, I already experience abundance in my life.  But, the words that Jesus used indicates the kind of fullness that overflows…that is impossible to measure.  So, it’s logical that there’s always more to be had, eh? :)

Just to be clear…

When I say abundance of life, I am including the full spectrum of what that means.  Finances are important because that is the normal medium of exchange.  But, more cash is only a potential part of the whole.  In fact, there are other things that are more powerful than money that people don’t often consider.

Sometimes we need favor more than we need cash.  And, although it’s not nearly as common as it once was, bartering is another form of “currency” that potentially has a great deal of value.

But, I digress…

I want to draw our attention to the fact that there are elements in the “abundance package” that must be acknowledged as valid, or authentic abundance will never be achieved.  First the points and then the descriptions:

  1. Failing is in the same pea-pod as abundance.
  2. Being “brain-weary” busy is a road that leads away from abundance.
  3. Starting “somewhere” will get you closer to abundance than the most brilliant, creative idea.
  4. Waiting for someone, including God, to give you abundance is a waste of valuable time.
  5. What you own does not prove your abundance.

Failing is in the same pea-pod as abundance

Failing is not the same as failure.  Failing is like falling down when a baby is learning to walk.  We all will be babies at many things in life as we are learning them.  The failure is the baby who refuses to get up and try again.

The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.  One of the greatest baseball players of all time, Babe Ruth, holds many “at bat victories.  Babe Ruth also struck out far more times than he connected with the ball.

Behind every great piece of art is a thousand failed attempts to make it, but these attempts are simply never shown to us.  Whatever defines abundance for you is perfected by getting up one more time than you fall down. That especially includes relationships.  You may not be good at them, but you can become increasingly better as long as you don’t throw in the towel.  Positive relationships with others is one of the most valuable commodities we will ever own.

Being “brain-weary” busy is a road that leads away from abundance.

Some people would equate abundance with being active and busy.   Being active can lead to abundance, but with so many people I’ve known through the years (including today…and including myself) always being “on the go” actually leads away from abundance.

Busyness isn’t a virtue, nor is it something to respect.  Though we all have seasons of crazy schedules, very few of us have a legitimate need to be busy ALL the time.  We simply don’t know how to live within our means, prioritize properly, and say no when we should.

Being busy rarely equates to productive abundance these days.  Though being busy can make us feel more alive than anything else for a moment, the sensation is not sustainable long term.  We will inevitably, whether tomorrow or on our deathbed, come to wish that we spent less time in the buzz of busyness and more time actually living a purposeful life.  We’ll realize we traded constant activity for many of the things that truly matter.

Starting “somewhere” will get you closer to abundance than the most brilliant, creative idea.

Abundance never comes to look for you while you wait around thinking about it.  Ideas about abundance are useless without action.  Creative ideas holds ten percent of the value of any truth.  Ninety percent of the power is in the activating of the information.  Remember that the next conference or workshop or bible study you attend.

If you wait until you feel 100% ready to begin, you’ll likely miss out on the abundant life that Jesus promises us and those who’d be positively affected by our imperfect actions.

Waiting for someone, including God, to give you abundance is a waste of valuable time.

Too many sincere Christians are waiting on God to act on His own and bless their lives with His abundance without partnering with Him in the process.

We need to wait on the Lord for richness of relationship with Him.  We need to do the same things to foster closeness with Him that we would with any earthly relationship we care about.  He grants wonderful ideas in those times, but it’s for the purpose of acting on His ideas and practical wisdom.  He’s looking for co-creators of abundance.  Not that act on their own, but in concert with Him.

What you own does not prove your abundance.

There’s not necessarily anything wrong with owning things (depending on one’s motivations), but things are just that…things.  They prove nothing about the abundance of one’s life.

One final word…

Life and change are also two peas in the same pod.  However good or bad a situation is now, it will change.  That’s the one thing you can count on.  So when life is good, enjoy it.  Don’t go looking for something better every second.  Happiness never comes to those who don’t appreciate what they have while they have it.

Also, don’t be constantly expecting you will loose something precious.  But, allow it to grow and change.  Just because it’s changing doesn’t mean you are loosing it.

Something I sometimes sense while I’m writing…

The last sentence in italics had the deep feeling that it was a word of encouragement from the Lord for somebody reading it.  It’s not there by accident.

May the experience of abundance in life be yours!  Perhaps it will, once you begin to change the definition. :)

Remember…Subscribing to this blog is easy and FREE!  I love FREE, right?

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’re Not Alone Cause Everybody Feels Like Quitting

mountaineerThe goal looks great (in photos).  In person, actually putting forth the effort, there are periods of pleasure;  But, also of pressure. 

Under the stress, strain, and fatigue of those less than pleasant times,  you begin to question whether it’s worth it.  You feel like quitting.

You’re not alone.  Everybody feels like quitting.  That emotion is common.

Everything didn’t come easy to Jesus

It may surprise you, but Jesus didn’t pop out of Mary’s womb, walking.  He had to learn to walk.  His first steps would have been like any other child’s first steps.  (Wobbly step, wobbly step, seat plant.  Wobbly step, firmer step, face plant.)  Just like you and me, Jesus had to learn stuff.  The process of learning is not a result of sin.  Actually acting like you already knows it all is.  Having a teachable attitude is a virtue.

Everything didn’t come easy to Jesus.  Pressing forward to acquire wisdom for your job, family, and spiritual life will not be a “piece of cake.”  So don’t expect it.  And don’t stop “pressing in” when it gets frustrating.  Don’t give up.  Some things are easier, some things are harder.  But nothing worthwhile is without effort.

Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.”
Hebrews 5:8

Being blessed of God doesn’t mean things will be easy

Sometimes we get the mistaken idea that “blessings” will equal “easy street.”  We – also mistakenly – add to that, if I can stop sinning and take my authority over the devil then I will find my ease.

Although sins have their bitter fruit (even if it seems to start sweet) that makes things hard, “hard” does not equal sin.  Although the deception of the devil is real, and demons like screwing with God’s kids, every hard thing we encounter was not the work of a demon.  I call such ideas, Christian Conspiracy Theories.

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

To “press on” indicates an intense pursuit and sustained effort.  It includes the idea of pressing against resistance.

Important Clarification:  The expression here, “has called me heavenward…” can have the legitimate applied meaning of a future state in Christ.  Ie:  Working hard till we get out of this hell-hole.  I grew up with that emphasis in my church.  However, since then, I’ve learned that God calling me heavenward in Christ-Jesus has a great deal to do with the current Christ centered and anointed life.  I press forward to example the truth of heaven here and now.  My heavenly calling includes “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Being an active disciple of Jesus isn’t easy.  It isn’t for the coward or the recluse.  It isn’t a life without resistance, frustration, and sorrows.

But it is also a life of great peace, joy, love, and deep satisfaction.  

Press on and press through my brothers and sisters.  Actively seek the ever increasing wisdom of the Holy Spirit to guide you.  It’s more than worth it.  Not just there, but in many here-and-nows.

(Side note:  My wife and I have had plenty of circumstances that brought self-sacrifice, frustration, and between a rock and hard times.  However…the sweet fruit of seeing fresh joy, dignity, and confidence restored to many who’d hit bottom….well…it’s not worthy to be compared to the light afflictions.)

Gary

What’s your experience?  Join the conversation: (Comment Below)
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God’s Open Doors For….

open doorsWe all have faced or are facing closed doors.  These doors are often the one’s we need most to be open.  They are doors to health, to jobs, to friendships, and more.

How do you get these doors of necessity opened?  That’s what I’m going to discuss today.

Let me start with a dream I had just a few days ago:

(Dreams can give us clues.  That’s one reason I’ve been learning to pay attention to mine, even when the ones I remember seem depressing.)

My Dream:

I was attempting to enter a closed door to my bedroom.  When I first turned the knob and began to enter, the door was blocked within a couple of inches like something or someone was on the other side preventing my entrance.

I tried to enter my bedroom (a place of rest in dream symbol), several times.  Each time my attempts would partially open the door but be resisted with a few inches.

Finally, I turned the knob and with all my might I pushed the door open.  This time it opened two thirds of the way, but the force on the other side immediately slammed the door back shut.

I woke up very frustrated.

What Was My Dream Saying?

I initially passed it off as a demonic resistance of some sort.  Frankly, I was just frustrated because I thought that I had been doing all the right things to progress in areas of resistance.  As my wife and I were in our car the next day, I expressed my feelings about the frustrating dream I had had the night before.  I had barely begun to explain the dream to her when I suddenly knew what was being communicated.

“There are closed doors you’ve been struggling with that you can’t open with natural abilities.  You need to be asking me to open the doors.”  Immediately with that thought the scripture came to me, “I open doors no man can close and close doors no man can open.”  (Rev. 3)

Truth be told, I thought I already had been committing the hard places to God and trusting Him with the outcome.  And, in a way, I had been…sort of.

I had been “trusting God” (in a general Christian way) but hadn’t been specific about seeking Him as the Door Opener.

I don’t believe that God plays technical games with us.  But, I believe there are specifics in spiritual life that move us along a more successful path as we learn them.

Faith is a function of specifics.  Without specifics faith doesn’t have a path to walk on and “gets caught in the weeds.”

Don’t stop reading here.  Now is when this becomes very helpful:

1. Trust is about overall non-specific confidence in God.  Faith is about specific “targets.”

2. Trust is about the foundation of sureness in God we walk upon.  Faith takes specific steps on that foundation.

The Process That Works Wonders

It’s actually a combination of work and ease.  It boils down to two (actually four) steps:

1.  Fueling your confidence by searching the scriptures to see God’s logos (logic) concerning your specific need.  In this case we are talking about doors.  Therefore, I googled the words, “doors in scripture.”  I knew there were some but it surprised me how many.

2.  Taking faith steps was not a matter of “confessing” the scriptures 10 times a minute in hopes it would do something.  Although…repeating the words will help fix them in your mind.  God is already aware of them, but we need help remembering and fixing them in our conscious minds.

3.  Forming mental pictures in my imagination of what the scriptures promise is available to me.  One of the most powerful gifts God gave us was the “power” of the imagination.  Ie:  Imaging what we conceptually believe.  That’s where the logic of truth becomes the heart of truth.

4.  I say out-loud to myself the picture I see.  In this case, an open door.  Your inner “door image” will look different than mine.  But it will keep my inner view of truth on the path instead of letting my natural mind pull me off into the weeds.

I hope it goes without saying that it’s understood that this all is saturated with confidence that it’s the power of God that’s doing the opening and that purposeful thanksgiving is the anchor that keeps your soul stable.

Jesus is the earth manifestation of God that’s our specific example to follow.  Fix your eyes on Him helps us focus our hearts.  As you consider what I’ve written here, and as you begin taking fresh steps of trust and faith, I’ve included an audio of “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” below to play:

Quick tip:  Divorce yourself right now from the whining words, “But, it’s so hard!”  They are keeping you from your desired outcome.

The Biggest, Most Important Thing You Need To Open Closed Doors Is Learning to FIX
YOUR EYES upon Jesus as the specific source.  As you look at the open door in the imagination of your heart, you are trusting Him as your “Open Door.” Every time your mind wander into the weeds of worry, intentionally turn them back with confidence and faith to the open door.  The outcome is sure!  In fact, in this kind of faith process, you’ll discover fresh practical ideas and steps coming to your mind to act upon in faith.

Stop gazing in fear and frustration at your lack and start fixing your eyes on the Door Opener!

Play

God Is Not A Cheapskate

sun-earthGod’s creation demonstrates that He is not a miser, skinflint, or cheapskate.  His accessible resources are more than enough.  The Scriptures emphasize the fact that it’s ours for the receiving.

God told Paul one time, “My grace is sufficient for you.”  (2 Cor. 12:9)

Many times we think of the word “sufficient” differently than God means it.

We think He is saying, “The grace that I give you is enough to meet your necessities.  It’s sufficient.  God means something wholly different.  He means “more than enough.”

Think about this:

Enough sunlight reaches the earth’s surface each minute to satisfy the world’s energy demands—for an entire year.

The word that God used with Paul also had the meaning, “to draw up.”  In other words, His grace was more than enough to draw Paul up into a highly place (His Presence.)  Instead of God removing the tormenting circumstances from Paul, God’s grace was more than enough to pull Paul up to a higher place.

If you have been asking God to take away your negative circumstances so that your life would improve, maybe His answer would be the same as it was with Paul.  He would say, “Your circumstances don’t have to change to make your life better.  Look to My grace.  It’s more than enough to lift you up out of the effects the circumstances are having on you into a place of peace in my Presence.

The sun demonstrates the depth of God’s resources.  You have no cause to worry.  Embrace His grace.  It’s more than enough than you and I will ever need.

One last thought:  His provision is best experienced by receiving it in and for the present moment.  Discouragement comes by trying to reason out what He will do in the future.  You don’t live “there.”  You live “here.”  Here is where you embrace His more than enough grace.

Where has He proved “more than enough for you?”  Share in the comments.  It will encourage others in this Blog Family.

Gary

Healthy Kingdom Faith & You

MustardCompAlthough the Bible is not literally intended as a “diet book,” there is much we can learn about healthy spiritual understandings and practice in it’s pages and stories.

Some people like mustard and some don’t.  But would it surprise you to know that mustard, as a condiment, goes back thousands of years?

However, whether or not you are a connoisseur of it’s varied spicy delights, understanding something of the source ingredient will aid you in the development of a healthy life as you journey the fruitful paths of God’s Kingdom.

Matthew 13:31,“Another parable he put before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field; 13.32 it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

It’s not about big beginnings

Large size churches, and mega ministries shape our opinions of success.  And frankly, many of them are doing wonderful work.  But, we are a “biggest bang for the buck” measurement society in the West, and we can easily use what appears to be successful by society standards and get discouraged if it doesn’t seem you are “measuring up.”

The best antidote I’ve found to the comparison temptation is to examine Kingdom qualities described in the Word of God.

Jesus said, that which has Kingdom impact can be compared to a mustard seed.  He emphasizes the fact that it starts small but the end result is immensely larger than its beginnings by comparison.

Not only churches and ministries

Whatever we do in life must not be divided into sacred/secular.  Too many see things that way, but that’s not a bible concept.  It crept into the mentality of the church, but there is no evidence that God marks that kind of division in life.  In Him it’s ALL spiritual.

So, as we look at our “callings” and  “productivity” in life, we use the same standards as if we were thinking church or ministry matters.  Most people are not called to be “the professionals.”
In fact, I’m not sure any are, really.  Even looking at the supposed “ministry gifts” I think we may well need to do some re-assessing in how we describe and define them.

Daily life seeds are vital

“The little things are the big things.”  That’s a phrase I always use when I officiate weddings.  The “little ideas and actions” that seem so small as to be insignificant may be the very seeds that ultimately have the greatest impact in the long run.

Mustard plants are prone to take over

Just by their nature, a mustard plant will “seek” to spread it’s branches and leaves.  When I was growing up, we had something in our yard that my dad was always fighting.  It was called “creeping charlie.”  If he wasn’t keeping watch, it would take over the whole yard and ruin the good grass.

That’s the negative side of the comparison.  But, there’s a positive take on this.

The Kingdom of God is not made of wimpy stuff.  Give it a chance and it will “take over.”  The devil would like you to think that you are the wimpy one that he can stuff out any time he decides.  Not true…unless you believe it is.

Stick with Kingdom decisions.  I said Kingdom decisions.  I didn’t say Dogma Decisions.  Doctrines are good things.  They come from a systematic approach to the teachings of the scriptures.  Dogma is opinon about what the scriptures teach.  There’s nothing wrong with opinions.  They are like belly buttons.  We all have them.  We simply need to give them only the amount of weight they actually should have.

I personally believe that we need to be regularly visiting our doctrines and see if they’ve become dogmas and adjust their weight accordingly.

Don’t be intimidated or discouraged with the small stuff

The small stuff becomes big stuff.  So, make sure your small stuff carries the Kingdom Seal of Approval.  Then, if it does, be faithful to it and watch God grow it in a way that is most significant to Him.

How are you doing with your “small stuff?”  Be encouraged that mustard seeds have huge power and potential.  Sew them in confidence.  And…

Practice being as excited over the “little things” as you are the things that seem bigger and more important or successful.  God measures by His standards, not Western Culture’s business mindset.

Gary

 

 

 

 

Better Than McMuffins

Better Than McMuffins ThumbnailI like a good McMuffin sandwich for breakfast.  In fact, I often make something similar for myself in our own kitchen.

As much as I like them, I really enjoy things like steak ‘n eggs, a great “kitchen sink” omelets, etc.

 

I’ve discovered that I’ve too often settled for a McMuffin relationship with the Lord, when much more is promised and available. 

Reading the scriptures we see that so much of His life with us has food, tasting, and dining experiences as metaphors.  I’m pressing on for the gourmet relationship in increasing measure this year.  That’s what He wants.  That’s what I want.

Here’s a short video clip that goes a little deeper on the subject:

Before you watch remember to make your comments below. What is your experience like? Do you want to improve it? How are you going to proceed?

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VIDEO CLIP BELOW:

Knowing The Peace Of Contentment

it-is-wellThere is such a rich, sweet inner aroma that comes with the sense of contentment as it wraps it’s warm, protecting blanket around you.

The bitter cold of trying circumstances can chill a person to the bone.  And the stormy atmosphere we live in has led – I fear – most people to believe that true contentment will always remain outside their grasp of experience.

A Bold Faced Promise

The scriptures have laid out many indicators that life can be experienced on a rich, abundant plane.  Jesus was pretty bold faced about it.  The words of John 10:10 weren’t the result of Jesus and the boys collaborating – as copy writers – for an ancient version of Hallmark Cards.

There Is A Place Of Peace

Ease, untroubled, joyful, fulfilled, unworried, peace.  All these are synonyms for contentment and it can be experienced in this life well before our last heartbeat.

I Have Learned Contentment

The apostle Paul put it this way as recorded in Philippians 4, “I have learned in whatever situation I find myself to be content.”

The whole 4th Chapter of Philippians is rich and worth slow cooker meditation.  It’s revolves around financial affairs.  (Frankly, that’s where most of us live as well.)  But, it’s wealth of truth is applicable to far more than economics.

Notice:  Paul said he “learned.”  Contentment is a process of learning.  It doesn’t “fall off the tree” and hit you in the head like a ripe apple if you “have enough faith.”

Btw…do you know how much I hate…I mean capitol “H” hate what some have done to the precious quality of God and made it into a man-made doctrinal dogma? 

Contentment Can’t Be Contained As A Sound-Byte.

We, in the West, attempt to reduce contentment to a 140 character Tweet definition.  But, fortunately it can’t be done.  It’s too rich to be stripped down to our “favorite bits” like that.  So, just for starters, a part of the contentment learning process can be found in the instructions of the whole chapter of Philippians 4.

But, for sake of a blog post, I want to point out just one facet.

What Did Paul Mean When He Used The Word, Content?

Paul was saying that he wasn’t dependent on outside sources.  You see the word he use was composed of two words that mean, “self-sufficient.”

But, this is not a self sufficient independent attitude we too often think of as a virtue, today, in Western culture.  He goes on to make a statement that clarifies his “self-sufficiency.”

Philippians, 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

This isn’t a verse to be quoted as a doctrinal “I’ll be alright” statement while we do everything in our power to figure out how we are going to fix things if God doesn’t come through the way we want Him to.

It’s about getting to taste His personality to the extent that I become increasing confident in the bottomless depth of His care for me. 

It’s not a matter of independence.  It’s an issue of interdependence with Him.  As that learning process takes a deeper and deeper hold on my soul, I am discovering increasing contentment that’s not dependent on anything but Him.  That in turn, as enriched my relationships with those around me.

You see…contentment smells sweet to me, but it also gives off a sweet aroma from me.

Gary

What’s are your thoughts?  Let us know below by LEAVING A REPLY:

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A Simpler Way To A Better Path

Changing PathsStruggling with things that haven’t seem to budge in a long time sucks.  There is a better path, but no amount of New Year’s resolutions have placed you on that path for more than frustratingly short time periods.

I have a suggestion.  Nothing else has worked has it?  You’ve settled into your “new normal” because you’re tired of the disappointment of failure, haven’t you?

No More Resolutions

Instead of making another resolution to “do better,” simply experiment with a whole different game plan.  And here it is…

Let Go of the Inertia

Inertia is momentum that stays the same under it’s own energy until something effects its course.  So, instead of trying to stop doing something that you don’t want to do, start doing something else that is part of the different path you’d prefer to be on.

Then Do It Again

The first time you do something different than “your new normal” it will feel a bit awkward.  That’s just the way it is.  Like they say, “That’s the way the cookie crumbles.”  But, the more you simply act on that thing that’s a part of a better path, it will keep feeling more and more normal.

And Again

As you simply repeat doing the better thing that’s part of the better path, inertia begins to work in your favor.  In fact it become more and more your “new automatic.”

Trying to Stop the Inertia of Bad Choices

Trying to stop the inertia of bad choices is like hand to hand combat with the flesh and the devil.  It doesn’t actually work out very well in the long run.

But, changing the flow of inertia is quite another.  In fact, in a little time you will have the same experience I had the first time I went on vacation in the Rocky Mountains.

My parents and I were driving into the mountains on the highway that the map said led to Pike’s Peek.  I kept looking a long ways away.  But, then I turned around and looked out the back window of our car.  I was shocked at how far “up” we had come from the lower elevation.

The Emphasis of Repentance

Repentance isn’t working hard to stop one action.  It’s replacing the unproductive action with one that looks like the path you prefer to be on.  Inertia takes over.  Now, you’re living…

God’s Normal.

Here’s the thing.  You can’t do more than one thing at a time regardless of how good you think you are at multi-tasking.  Just keep experimenting with better, more pleasurable ways of doing what get’s you where you really want to go.

Now, before you leave this page, go to right, then up to the top right column and subscribe. Thanks!

And thanks for adding to the discussion with your comments.
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Is the “X” a Replacement for Christ?

xmasIs writing xmas instead of Christmas an attempt to remove the worship of Christ from the holiday?

If the facts are known, the answer is no.  Unfortunately many well meaning but ill informed Christians have been unnecessarily “scandalized” once again.

X is the first Greek letter in the title, Christ. In fact that’s how Christ was written for 1,500 years.

 

The Origin of “X Marks the Spot”

In the early days of the church, when a follower of Christ as martyred, Christians would often mark an “x” on the spot after the body was taken away.  They were signifying, “Here is a place where a Christian lost his life for his faith.

And so, “X-Mas” is not removing Christ from Christmas, it’s simply writing it in a more ancient way.  Let’s remind ourselves that it’s easy to get upset over things that – many times – have no basis in fact. 

And so as the late news commentator, Paul Harvey, used to say, “Now you have the rest of the story.”

Blessed XMas Everyone!  He Is The Glorious Reason For The Season!

Gary

 

The Grinch Can’t Steal My Christmas Joy

Grinch Navity.001This is part 2 of The “Pagan Christmas Witch Hunt” if you may not have seen it.

Peddlers of gloom who stress that Dec. 25 is a pagan holiday and should not be celebrated can’t steal my joy.

Here are a few more (I believe sane and spiritual) responses to the following objections:

1.  Jesus Wouldn’t Condone The Commercialism

I agree.  I don’t think He would.  Our Western style of commercialized prosperity has missed the mark inside and outside the church, His representative Body.

I used to try to sneak things past my father by saying, “But all the kids are doing it.”  He would always respond, “If your best friend jumps off a bridge, will you?”

The point is this:  I can live in a “commercialized society without being a participant in commercialism (whatever that actually means).  I can celebrate the incarnation of Christ at a time when attention is focused there and do so with financial dignity, and honor.

2.  Jesus wasn’t born on December 25, anyway!

I know that.  I wasn’t born on the moon.  Nobody actually knows specifically when He was born with any certainty.  The Biblical account as well as extra-biblical literature is very sparse on the timing issues of His birth.  Those opinions that are extracted from biblical passages are suspect at best because the topics in mention are “spiritual” in nature and not the subject of correct calendar dating.

It is interesting to note that a plausible presentation is given by the scholarly work of E.W. Bullinger’s “Companion Bible.”  Bullinger personally believes with confidence that it’s likely that Jesus was born on our September 29th and that December 25th would have been when Mary conceived of the Holy Spirit.   I find it interesting in that I’m one who believes that life begins at conception.  So, could it be that Jesus actually “entered” the earth 9 months earlier, through supernatural conception, on our calendar December 25?)   Still speculation, but interesting.

The Early Church Attempted To Sanitize A Pagan Holiday

I’m not going to give detail here, because I covered this in part one, however a follow-up question was asked, “Would you celebrate the birth of Christ on an Islamic holiday?

My answer:  Yes, maybe.  It depends.

A question like that assumes a negative answer by an emotionally heated shaming comparison.  However, I would rather think more deeply with my heart than that.  As I’ve stated in part one, I believe it is just as likely that the early church was not doing a cowardly job of sanitizing by turning a heathen holiday into a day to honor Christ.  But, instead, they were taking a “counter-cultural creative stand” in the face of debauchery.  They were saying, “You emphasize the birth of the sun on this day with debauchery and revelry.  We honor the birth of the True Son with our celebration.  I think that would have been a pretty ball-sy stand.

If I felt God was putting it on my heart to counter-culture my Christian beliefs in an Islamic culture, I would.

My Friend Larry De Salvo said it best

 “You know, I was wondering how so many different people came up with so many “pagan” ideas?  We can ‘witch hunt’ with so many various ideas and “pagan” days and pagan this and pagan that we can pick and choose “Which” crazy ideas we want to embrace and bring to the forefront and sensationalize and cause division within our own ranks… it seems like an excellent way for the enemy to divide and make enemies of our own brothers and sisters in The Body of Christ. It’s very easy to find a rabbit trail to follow if your looking for one and our enemy is a master of giving us something to follow whether partly true, totally true, or totally false just to keep us busy and take our focus off of the matter at hand, loving Jesus and allowing the natural flow that comes from that to our brothers and sisters…”

Larry ends with a verse that has also been on my heart, (I Samuel 16:7), “Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.”

Final Word:

The religious world is full of voices that have the same spirit the Pharisee’s carried.  The details are different but the spirit is the same.  The motivating force behind the Pharisee was to keep things pure.  They added many “laws” that were not inspired by God, but they carried the spirit that it was their job to keep everything pure for God.

Religion comes from the words, “to re-bind.”  Whom the Son sets free, let him remain free, indeed.

I’m not going to let any Grinch in the robes of a Pharisee steal my joy this season.  I hope you don’t either.

Gary