It’s all too easy to look up at the end of December and—poof—realize the opportunity for meaningful reflection has passed, vacuumed up or packed away for next year, like another decoration. So this Christmas, how can we truly be present and not just buy presents? We find the answer in the most fundamental (and perhaps surprising) of places—in singing traditional carols together.
Luther knew something that we often forget. He knew that in that little word of faith is the power of God. It makes the sinner righteous. It makes the lame walk, the blind see, and the dead live. It frees the captive from the powers of addiction and heals the wounds of years of selfishness and abuse. It is the power of salvation to all who believe it. It turns tragedy into triumph and makes us more than conquerors through him who loves us. When we believe it, it releases in us the power of the Spirit, so much so that not even the gates of hell can withstand us.
If our theological convictions were a house, some books build the foundation, stabilizing the ideas we hold about God. Others paint the structure with brilliant and beautiful colors, giving what we believe about God a kind of vibrancy.
The trick, then, is to discern which books should build up the foundation, and which should be left for the painting. It’s not hard to imagine readers wondering where exactly to place Emmanuel Carrère’s latest book, The Kingdom, as they construct their own theological house.
The Lord has been incredibly gracious allowing me to travel and serve him in some unique places around the world. These short-term mission trips have not only impacted my faith but have shaped me as a pastor. On occasion I have been asked, “Why, when it is so expensive to travel and there are so many needs here should anyone take a short-term mission trip?” I would like briefly offer some reasons as to why you should consider taking a short-term mission trip in 2018.
Although the nuclear family was then and still is an essential part of a flourishing society, nonetheless, Christ calls us to expand our loyalties to the larger family of God and extend hospitality to those around us.
The need for this hospitality is everywhere, if only we’ll see and respond.
A favorite from the archives:
As anyone who’s been reading this blog for at least a year knows, I’m not a huge fan of Christmas music, especially a lot of the stuff geared toward Christians (far too much “Mary Did You Know,” not nearly enough “Child of Glory”). I’ve shared a few examples of what I think are good and bad Christmas songs in the past (and I stand by them all), but today I wanted to share a few albums that even grinches like me can enjoy.