Christmas Thoughts

Christmas Tree with PresentsThis time of year is a joyful, festive time of year filled with family time, days off from work, presents given and received and celebration. At least, that is how we look forward to this time of year; and I believe it is, for most of us, for the most part, a joyful time of year. But, life is not so consistent with our expectations and experiences.

I checked Facebook this morning when I awoke. A high school classmate reports that his wife and mother of his daughters when to “be with the angels” last night. A friend I met in college said goodbye to his mother yesterday, and she is no longer with us today. An acquaintance I know through wrestling described a colleague, only a few months past 50, passed yesterday after a two-week bout of pneumonia. Another high school friend asked for prayers for his daughter, going in two weeks in the hospital. Another friend from high school started chemo again this week.

These are only a few circumstances among the people I know of people who are struggling with loss, sickness and other difficulties right now. I am painfully aware that this joyful time of year is anything but happy for many people dealing with financial, health and other struggles. The incongruity of the festive, outward showings and the dark, inward struggles makes this time of year especially difficult for many people.

In quieter reflection, we know that the reason for celebration is not the outward trappings. We celebrate the birth of Christ and the hope He brings. Implicit in the story of God shedding his omnipresence and exchanging an eternal, omnipotent position for the humble perspective of dependent newborn baby is that God is not unaware or unable to identify with us in our humanity and our struggles. He is not unaccustomed to suffering.lightstock_798_xsmall_user_7997290

Jesus Christ became God with us, Emmanuel, as foretold many centuries before. He lived as we live and suffered as we suffered. Jesus felt weight of depression and the sorrow of loss. He intimately knows our struggles.

Though we celebrate the birth of Christ at this time of year, we cannot help but see that joyful time in the context of the purpose for which He was born – to bear in Himself the sin of mankind, to carry that burden to the cross – and, in dying, to bury sin; and in rising, to conquer death and give us hope.

We have a God who is not distant, but is now poised at the door to each of our hearts. He is still God with us, but He is also now able to be God in us – if we are willing to receive Him. I pray that you would open the door to Him today and receive the hope He has to bring.

Though life is still marked by sorrows and suffering, we have hope. I wish and pray for God to fill each person on this Christmas Eve day with that hope and, with it, peace and comfort and, yes, even joy. In the midst of the difficulties and struggles, we can have joy. Our hope is not in the things of this world, but is anchored in something deeper and more substantial.

In that vein, have a Merry Christmas everyone!

Christmas nativity

Belief in God is not Blind Faith; Encounters with God

Faith is not blind or irrational. It is evidence based, but it does take some risk to act in hope and confidence on the evidence.

Ryan Sun

Paul said that he is not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes. (Romans 1:16) Faith is obviously central to spiritual life in Christ.

What is meant by faith, however? Is faith “blind”? Is faith is antithetical to science, and science the opposite of faith? Does faith require the suspension of intellect? Does faith require us to abandon obvious evidence to the contrary? I have not found any of these things to be the case.

Faith does take a leap, but faith is not like jumping out over a yawning chasm. Continue reading “Belief in God is not Blind Faith; Encounters with God”

It is Not so Hard to Imagine

I have been learning how to use HootSuite this weekend. The HootSuite technology allows a person to leverage one’s finite time in a way that one can communicate in almost real time with a vast number of people. It is a website for tracking and posting to an almost unlimited number of social media sites and groupings within sites at one time. In one stroke of the keyboard, a person can tweet, post on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, MySpace, Foursquare, WordPress, Mixi and within those social media sites on specific groups and pages, potentially reaching thousands and even hundreds of thousands of people simultaneously. At the same time a person can almost simultaneously follow and respond to dozens and even hundreds of other people posting things in the same social media sites and groups. It is pretty remarkable.

Technology brings to us what was only dreamed about a few years ago and what might never have been imagined just a couple of generations ago. As we become more self-sufficient than ever as beings, the tendency is to become less reliant on faith and God. One thing technology has not changed is the certainty of death. We are also still beings. This world is bigger than us, and we do not ultimately control our own fate…. but that is another topic for another day.

It occurred to me as I learned my way around HootSuite this weekend, that God’s ability to have an individual relationship with each and every person is not such a farfetched concept. If one finite person can simultaneously communicate with hundreds and thousands of people, it is not hard to imagine that God, who is infinite, can communicate with each one of us on an intimate, personal level.

It is written that God knows every hair on your head. (Luke 12:7) Even more than that, the Psalmist says that God knows your comings and goings and the very thoughts in your head! (Psalm 139) God knows when you get up and lie down. There is nowhere a person can go that God is not there and is not aware of what a person does. It really is not so hard to imagine that God can do that in light of the ability that we have at our fingertips. God knows you