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You know, we’ve heard many of the old Bible stories since childhood. We’ve heard them so many times, in fact, that they may seem to be just that: simple childhood STORIES – But God recorded all of those for real and specific purposes:

1) They’re real, historical recordings.

2) God is still using them to tell us His Old, Old story.

For a moment, I want to think about the story of the old, wizened prophet, Daniel as he, in Babylonian and then Persian captivity, was accused and sent to be executed – in a den of lions. And while observing this, let us see the deliverance of the Lord for Daniel – and in doing so, let’s see what God has for us as well.

In studying the true-life story of Daniel and the Lion’s den, we can see the enemy’s forces at work in the lives of the people of God

AND

we can see the deliverance of an individual dedicated to Godliness and integrity: old, wizened, Daniel, as he keeps himself true to his God.

AND

We can also see that God has that same purpose for each of us:  as we keep our trust in Him, He still delivers us today.

 Of course, this story is presented to us in Daniel 6. and, rather than tell it, I encourage you to read it again – in a trusted, easy-to-read translation – and then think about these things:

Life-Principle #1: God sees the enemies in your life and He gives you His deliverance when you put and keep your trust in Him.

Life-Principle #2: You can serve God as a young person OR as an old person (or anywhere in between); age has no boundaries for the servant of God.

Life-Principle #3: If you, like Daniel, desire to have an excellent spirit within you, God will open amazing doors before you. How do you get an excellent spirit? You spend daily time in relationship with the Lord and with His community, His people, His church.

Life-Principle #4: Wow! Think about this: It is a great thing when people such as Daniel possess such great character—such impeccable character — that they can’t be accused of doing anything wrong– except in matters relating to their faith. Let that be a challenge to each of us today.

Life-Principle #5: Faith is not believing through lack of evidence or in spite of evidence; faith is believing and obeying, even through and in spite of consequences.

Life-Principle #6: God’s servants are, in a very real way, immortal, until God’s work in them has been completed. In other words, if God is not finished with you yet, you need not fear death.

Life-Principle#7: If your faith cannot be tested, your faith cannot be trusted.

And with all these thoughts in mind, I really would like for you to take these words with you throughout this week:

  1. Determine to serve the Lord with an unwavering faith
  2. Know that He has a purpose and will for you.
  3. Know that He has you and your care in the center of His hands
  4. Know that ALL things work together for His good (Romans 8:28).

 

On a Different Note:

This past week reminded me of the need for setting and following priorities.

Thursday was a Jr. High football game in Perkins/Sandusky. Cheri and I didn’t get to go to see our grandson, Isaac, play. His team won by four touchdowns; he scored three of them. I really would have like to have seen that.

Friday, we had dinner with Dave and Jacquie at their house. They are getting ready for their seasonal move back down south in a few weeks. We were honored to have been invited and we are so glad we went over and spent close to six hours with them. Good, trustworthy, and Godly friends are difficult to come by. I’m glad we went.

Saturday, another grandson, Christian, played Jr. Varsity football over in Apple Creek. Cheri and I knew it was going to be a busy day BUT, we were determined to go and see him play. Although he did not get a whole lot of playing time on the field, we both beamed with pride as we sat in the stands with our son and daughter and one of our granddaughters, Piper. We treasure such family times.

Then we rushed back from Apple Creek to Mansfield so that I could pick up my guitar and drive to Ashland to play with my son, Jamie, as he and I ministered in a time of street ministry to the addicts in particular. It is always a wonderful thing to minister with any of my family, and Jamie is particularly anointed in playing piano and leading in worship; I got to be a part of that.

And Sunday, Cheri and I ministered God’s Word in two services. Those are always special times to me – times when we can stretch out a little in our giftings – and times when we can watch what God is doing through us. I don’t take for granted the anointing we have; so we treasure them and seek to be good stewards of those giftings.

And then, I just get to take care of Cheri. She is my gift from God and I get to pamper her a little and take care of her. She is really doing great and looking to be perfectly fit and healthy; she wanted so badly to go to church Sunday night – to be a part of the dinner-on-the-grounds and to sing with our church at the hymn-sing – but she was tired and struggling with some of the after-effects of her radiation treatments – so I asked her to stay at home. Sometimes, it’s just nice to take care of your mate.

My friends, we must be good stewards of the time, of the gifts, and of the giftings that God has granted to us. As we prove to be faithful and as we prove to be good stewards, His grace seems to increase.

 


“Doing” versus “Being”

I have recently been reading a book by Brian Rosner entitled, “Known by God: A Biblical Theology of Personal Identity”. In this book, he presents the Biblical thought of the “son being in the image of the Father”. While I had a concept of this, the imagery was deepened for me. Yes, that seems to be only natural that a son should be reared in the image of his father and should pick up and produce many of the traits of that father. But, all of the sudden, as I am reading this, I now see the image of the son (us) being reared in the image (and praxis) of our loving Heavenly Father and following in His traits. All of the sudden, “Be ye holy for I am holy …” (1 Peter 1:16 NASB) comes to a new light. Because we are HIS, we should be taking on the image of Him. While this could present an immediate challenge of trying to ACT in His image, Rosner’s side-bar on p.158 brought a new light with the son saying to the father, “you taught me to BE myself” (emphasis mine). In other words, this IMAGE of God in us is not something that becomes worked up and produced; instead, it BECOMES because it is being grown in us by walking in His footsteps.

The part of this that seemed counterintuitive to me was the concept that many of us would strive to achieve the goal of being in His image. Admittedly, part of this issue is that I am, along with our church elders, simultaneously reading “Gospel Wakefulness” by Jared C. Wilson. In it, he speaks of “doing” versus “being”. I think the issue with me is that Rosner continually iterates that the process of being fathered through adoption WILL PRODUCE likeness, simply through the parapeteo of life. This is great imagery, and IF such semantics have been drilled into one’s mind through study and training, the idea of STRIVING FOR what will eventually be ours anyway seems ultra-counterintuitive.

First, I understand the reasoning many translations make certain phrasings and words gender non-specific. Such understanding certainly applies to huios. However, since ho huios IS masculine in situ, and since I am naturally male, the need was undesired for me. It seems more applicable to me personally that the Heavenly Father Who has adopted me desires and equips me to “follow in His footsteps.” Again, I do not desire to take away from the gender non-specific translation, I simply seek self-application that I can fully relate to. SO, I am compelled to spend more time with Him so that I might learn to walk in His footsteps—so that I might BECOME more like the Heavenly Father.

On a personal note

This weekend at OCF, we celebrated a life well lived through Judy Roth. Judy was in her eighties, had been married for 61 years to Bob and had served Jesus pretty much all her life. To be very honest, I wish that Cheri and I had been able to know Judy sooner. In our knowledge of her, she had been manifesting signs of dementia and was clearly not always of sound mind. But to our understanding, she had always been vibrant and adventurous. In fact, just a few years ago, she had jumped from an airplane in a parachute – just because she could. I can’t exactly produce the word her son used to describe her, but it paralleled the thought of defying the norm or expected.

And so, I walked away from that service challenged. I don’t want to live the norm. I want my wife to think I am God’s gift to her.

I want my children and grandchildren to think their dad/papa is fun.

And I want to hear God say of me, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”


Tell Me the Old, Old Story – of David and Goliath

We’ve heard the old Bible stories since childhood. We’ve heard them so much, in fact, that many of them may seem to be just that: simple childhood STORIES – But God recorded these stories for a very real purpose.

1) They’re real, historical recordings.

2) God is still using them to tell us the truth.

One of those stories is that of David and Goliath.

There is MUCH for us to learn here in this factual story.

Perhaps the biggest is this: God sees the giants in your life and He gives the victory when you put your trust in Him.

You see, when you determine to allow God to move in your life—and when you get out of His way and cooperate with Him to pull down strongholds in your life, my friend, it will produce a victorious end – But it will also make the news.

When great things are happening, people are going to talk about it — and talk about you– and some will even come and try to talk you out of it.

But we must remain steadfast.

We must not be swayed to the left or the right BUT, we must stay on course and produce what God has put within us.

Our attitude, then, must be like that of young David; it must be,

“Satan, you cannot have my family!

You cannot have this ministry!

You cannot have this church!

Devil, you cannot have our finances!

You cannot kill our family with sickness and disease!

You cannot, cannot, cannot! … for I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”

At that time in his life, David didn’t need to know Goliath’s Strength, because David already knew God’s strength.

In his book, Facing Your Giants, Max Lucado says:

  • Focus on Giants — You Stumble
  • Focus on God –Your Giants Tumble

Think of it this way:

In the case of David and Goliath, the enemy had already defeated the children of God through words and intimidation

Until a man after God’s own heart, full of faith in God stepped up

Called upon the Name and reputation of the Lord

And defeated that enemy.

So, stop listening to the enemy with his slanderous accusations and deceiving suggestions.

Instead, stand up, pursue God, and become the man or woman after God’s own heart.

And witness the victory of the Lord.

 

On a different note:

This is a heavy week.

Cheri finishes her 20 units of radiation for her Breast Cancer. This is exciting and she has shown all of us how to trust and believe God in times of need. Praise God for her example.

And I made appointments for cataract surgeries. Wow! I didn’t see that a-comin’. But I’m told that, between my age and my diabetes, it is pretty much inevitable. I know this is routine surgery – and I’m not afraid– BUT, I just don’t want to have to go through all the healing process and time. AND, I don’t know what to anticipate on the other side of the surgery. BUT, it’s all in His hands and I walk with confidence in that.

Pastor Jim


Recharge Your Batteries

There are many different expectations of all of us as Christians – especially pastors and other leaders.

It is my understanding that the Biblical qualifications of a pastor are delineated in 1 Timothy 3:2-7 (NASB)

An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate,
prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or
pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one
who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with
all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how
will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will
not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And
he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not
fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

From this passage, I have surmised that the role of the pastor must begin within his own home. Another aspect of this is found in a phrase often quoted by a pastor-friend of mine in Alabama. He says, “You can lose your church and still keep your family; but if you ever lose your family, you stand at risk of losing your church as well.”  I think there is great wisdom in those words. Because of this sentiment, I believe that the Christian leader must protect his family as well as himself by establishing limitations and guidelines that he will allow of others’ expectations upon himself and his family.

I think one of the difficulties I often face as a pastor is that I have difficulty in taking time-off. I simply get into the aspect where I want to be sure that I don’t miss anything God is doing at the church.

But we must realize that such is not healthy. We MUST take time to rest, to develop ourselves, and to let God be God in and around us. In fact, God commanded us to take a break; He told us we are to keep and honor every Sabbath. This means we are to take a day of rest every week.

There are probably many reasons we are told to rest. One is that God Himself set such an example before us when He rested on the seventh day of Creation. Another is that He specifically told us that we are to take every seventh day as a time of rest.

And again, He showed us with the example of supplying the Children of Israel with manna and yet, they were to collect only on the first six days of the week but leave untouched the seventh day’s supply; God would (and did) supply their need.

The pastor must be careful to set aside time for vacation and time alone with his family. Also, there must be time set aside for personal recreation, personal rest, family togetherness, and personal mental and emotional maintenance. And all of this is in addition to personal Bible Study, reading, and praying. Some have suggested that pastors should not factor those things into the equations, but I suggest that if the leader is not adequately concerned for his own family and well-being, he will not last long enough in life to be able to last long in ministry.

So yes, I am pleading for all of us to take time and rest our weary bones, rest our minds, relax in Him, and them move in Him.

On a Personal note:

Cheri and I took this past weekend off. It was the first time I have missed church in forever. It was personal time for the two of us, AND, it was my 61st birthday.

We road-tripped much of these few days, spent some time in Amish country with the camera in hand, and more than anything, just enjoyed being together.

We rested.

We had all the grandchildren (but 1) over and grilled out hamburgers and hotdogs.

I even bought edible crickets for all the kids to try. (We’re always trying something – I teach them to be adventurous.)

But more than anything, we just relaxed and enjoyed.

So, I’m still learning.

After 61 years, I’m learning to relax and enjoy.

I am finding that it is an art.

But I am also finding that it is necessary.

Friends, Let’s take time to rest – and to enjoy this God-given journey called life.

Pastor Jim


Wow! I was looking at my photos in Dropbox yesterday and I hit upon all my pictures from the three trips I have made to Israel. How exciting it was as I viewed our 2007 archaeological study tour with Ashland Theological Seminary, our 2010 pilgrimage with CLC, and my 2011 Missions journey with four friends from Chicago as we toured the land while ministering in missions work among Russian Jews in Haifa.

While those times and pictures are very precious to me, I am also reminded that we are returning to the Land in November and we get to share it with many who have never been there before.

I am passionate about the Land of Israel and about sharing it with others.

And I am challenged by that BECAUSE, I wonder how passionate I am about sharing Jesus with others. Certainly, as a Pastor, sharing Jesus is part of the assumed role and I fill that well BUT, am I, James Vernon Garrett the man, passionate about sharing Jesus?

If we can be consumed by a place, by a sports team, by a family, by anything else, then what hinders us or what sidetracks us from being consumed by Jesus?

This is NOT intended to “beat any of us up”, nor is it intended to produce a false humility among any of us – instead, it is to provoke a thought that perhaps we can move deeper in love with Him – with the Author and Finisher of our faith – with the Object of our true worship.

Be challenged this day. Accept the challenge – and dig a little deeper.

On another note:

What a Sunday we just completed. OCF had all the students, teachers, administrators, and staff from all of our represented schools: kindergarten, elementary, jr. high, high school, college, grad school, and technical/vocational school with public school, home school, and private school representation – and we individually prayed, accompanied with the laying on of hands, for each one. It was a special time and I know that we are going to bear good fruit from this effort. God is going to be in the midst of our schools in a special way this year.

Also, we had a time of unity building among our pastors, elders, and deacons that was incredibly priceless. The following morning, I received an email from one of those in attendance that ended with this statement: “More and more I think the Holy Spirit is taking hold of our church …”

To God be the glory!!!

Pastor Jim


The sermon from this weekend’s pulpit was about pride. The preacher made an interesting comment to the effect that, “Pride is the enemy of Joy.”

I must confess to you: I had to think about that for a little bit. Of course, we can all probably come up with MANY enemies of Joy BUT, as I though deeper, I began to realize that the focus of the message was not on joy – or lack thereof—rather the focus was on pride.

Pride is defined as a sense of self-majesty (as directly opposed to a sense of “ruin”). In other words, it is a thinking more highly than one should or even higher than is true. And yes, pride and arrogance are proper translations BUT, we must realize that Biblical pride, especially in the Old Testament, is diametrically opposed to “ruin” In other words, when we begin to read about pride going before the fall and pride leading to destruction, we should readily see that, because those two ends are exact opposites, the former quickly digresses to the latter; it is a natural degradation of thing – it is also the Law and the plan of God. So, it begins to make sense when we read Job 33:17 (NLT):He makes them turn from doing wrong; he keeps them from pride”. Doing wrong IS destruction – and when God is keeping us from pride, He is correspondingly keeping us from ruin and destruction.

So yes, Pride IS the enemy of joy – but it is also the enemy of contentment, peace, goodness, completeness, success, and much, much more. If we want these things, the joy, the contentment, the completeness, the success, and all these other things, we must walk absent of pride – but in humility before Him. I love to read this passage that refers to the result of a king, a leader of a nation, as he turned from his pride, as he faced the purpose of God, and as God protected him and ALL his people: “Then Hezekiah humbled himself and repented of his pride, as did the people of Jerusalem. So, the LORD’s anger did not fall on them during Hezekiah’s lifetime (2 Chr. 32:26 NLT).

May we walk NOT in pride – but in true humility.

 

On another note, I was thrilled this weekend by two separate events with our local church, OCF.

One, I was able to conduct my first OCF Baby Dedication. As we dedicated John-John, I was reminded of the responsibilities that are due for our children — and I am speaking to every parent, grandparent, great-grandparent and beyond. And I am also talking to the church. We ARE family. We ARE community. And we need to work together, pray together, and live together to teach our children about Jesus Christ well.

Two, I was able to baptize ten believers in the pond of one of our church members. Some were children, some were teens– there was even an adult. To hear the testimonies, to hear the shouts of respect and joy from the families, and to see the faces on several of these as they came out of the water– it was a fabulous experience and, as the pastor, I had the honor of being a part of it.

Lord, let me remember these experiences like they are new — every time I get to do this. Make it fresh. Make it like a first time all over again.

Pastor Jim


Leviticus 25 declares the concept of the Biblical Year of Jubilee as:

–- that time when freedom reigns because lands and possessions are reverted back to their previous owner

— that time occurring every 50 years when captives are set free

— that time when land was allowed to lie fallow (or basically, untended), that it might actually become more fruitful

What an appropriate portrait as this week, our church, OCF, celebrates 50 years of ministry.

It is also appropriate that we venture into Acts 29, as we are liberated to continue the exaltation of Christ among our families, our peers, and the whole earth.

As we look at what God did for the people and the land of Israel at the time of Jubilee, it should cause great excitement to come upon each of us. Pretty much everything God did for Israel then, He has available for us today (except for the issue of the possession of land which applied only to that people in that place). I get excited when I realize that God still chooses to restore that which has been taken, to set the captives free, and to release the oppressed. And in a very large and real way, God has handed this over as the mission of the church. Now, it us up to us to recognize that we are that Church, the living presence of God in the earth declaring that restoration and freedom.

God is calling us to rise up and be the Church.

So what are our “take-aways” from this weekend’s message?

  • Make restitution for things stolen, taken, or lost.
  • Deal fairly with every person –even for past events.
  • Forgive offensestaken against us.
  • Invite God to bring Jubilee to you and to your family.
  • Be a funnel of Jubilee to your community… to your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers, the lost, the addicted, the destitute…bringing restoration and freedom, expanding His Kingdom

 

On a much more personal note:

I had the privilege of ministering together with my son this past weekend at the Jubilee Festival at our church, OCF. That is always a joy for me – to see someone I taught music to – to play and to sing – and then to see that he has far exceeded my gifts—what a thrill. Jamie, I am proud of you, son. And I am glad you are sensing your role in His Church.

And my middle child, Amber, started her new job as a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner with Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. She is genuinely a servant of God and I love seeing her do what she loves —ministering to those premature babies and their parents. What a thrill. And I am glad you are sensing your role in His Church.

And finally, my oldest, Crystal, is in the country of South Africa this month – a place that she considers her second home. This is the land where she interned as a missionary. Although she is currently there on a hiring venture, her missionary heart for these people groups still rings true. Again, What a thrill. And I am glad you are sensing your role in His Church.

And as far as the world around us spins, this week has been a relatively quiet world – especially in light of the events of the week prior. I think we all needed a little bit of time to think and contemplate our place in our often-violent habitation. I am so thankful that it is not me who is in control – but God who is in control – and while I do not understand what all is taking place, I continue to trust God in and through it all. And in the midst of that, I am glad that He still chooses us, His people, the Church, to carry on as His Ambassadors to bring His liberty to this earth and to enlarge His Kingdom.


It has been a wild and wooly weekend in our lives.

First, I caught news of another shooting in El Paso, Texas. I felt like I was kicked in the gut again. I felt for the wounded victims as well as the families of the deceased; I was (and am) hurt and emotionally wounded myself. Life is so precious and then, to see it snuffed out among so many is simply smothering.

And almost immediately, before my mind could settle, in that same evening, we received another report of another shooting – this time a little closer to home, just a couple hundred miles away in Dayton, OH. Oh, the senselessness — more lives ushered into eternity, bodies and emotions wounded, families shattered.

I know some people will say some really strange things at times like these such as, “Don’t send your prayers; they’re not helping.” How foolish. On the one hand, I comprehend the pain – but on the other hand, prayer is really all we have and all we can do. We don’t have solutions. Politicians will not have solutions. In fact, NO ONE HAS ANY SOLUTIONS.

The only solution is Jesus.

The only means we have of tapping into that solution is prayer.

My friends, send up prayers to God with all the strength and spirituality that you have.

Desperate times require desperate measures.

On another note,

The message this past weekend looked at Paul’s parting words to the Church in Ephesus as recorded in Acts 20. It was an impassioned time of leaving, a solemn statement of warning, and a determined word of pressing on and finishing the race well.

The “take-aways” from that message are pretty simple and straightforward.

They are to:

• Be that ambassador (empowered and equipped representative) that Christ has called you to be

• Be His disciple—a student of the Word and of prayer who is also making other disciples

• Be a watchman/watchwoman over your household and yourself. It is important that we protect those over whom God has given us a season of stewardship.

• Be determined to finish the race well and to complete the task the Lord Jesus gave you.

It is my prayer this week that God would so make you aware of His presence, His keeping, His empowerment, and His equipping – so that we would sense an overflowing of Him in us to reach those around us.

Radically Serving Him,

Pastor Jim

God’s Favorite


I want to tell you something special today.

Something so special that – well, it’s a secret.

But it’s a secret I cannot contain.

And here it goes – are you ready for it?

 

 

I am God’s favorite.

If God has a refrigerator, you can be assured that my picture is on it.

pexels-photo-296649.jpeg

If there was an Open House at school (and if I was still in school), I KNOW that God would show up to hear about me from my teachers.

Now, you may be thinking, “Jim, how can you say such foolishness?”

And I have a great response for you: “I can say it because it’s true.”

I am God’s favorite and He loves me so much.

But wait a minute, I can tell you another secret this morning.

God loves you too.

And you’re His favorite too.

How do I know that?

Because His Word gives us a great example:

He gave Himself for us.

We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him (Romans 5:7-8 MSG).

And here’s another example for us:

The prophet Zechariah tells us that we, as we are related to Israel, are the apple of His eye.

for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye (Zechariah 2:8b NIV).

We are special to Him.

You see, you and I truly ARE His favorites.

And He shows His favoritism – He shows His love for us by caring for us.

The New Testament writer Peter tells us:

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (1Pe 5:7 NIV).

And then, Peter goes so far as to call us God’s special people.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (1 Peter 2:9 NIV).

And finally, I want to prove this secret once and for all – to all of us here – that we ARE truly God’s favorites. In fact, He loves us so much that He gave His life for us.

John 3:16 reminds us

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16 NIV).

My friend, I just stopped today to tell you: I’m God’s favorite – and so are you.

Let’s Pray–

Lord —  I pray that you would remind us of Your great love for each of us. Speak to our hearts right where we are and draw us closer to you. Teach us that we are precious in your sight and that you love us GREATER than we are capable of realizing.

Let us be assured that we are Your favorites.

In Jesus’ Name

Amen

 


It’s that time of year again and, as usual, the controversies rise to the top. It is my goal to simply celebrate the season, celebrate the birth of Jesus, celebrate the friendships I have, and celebrate the family I have.

There are always many discussion concerning the real birthdate of Jesus. The truth: Weborn-in-a-manger-by-yori-narparti will never know; neither the Bible nor history tells us anything. Certainly, many have attempted to deduce the birthdate but truthfully, we will never know. Could it have been December 25? Possibly, but there are 364 other days it could have been too. The Catholic church, (you know, the one from which most of us “descended”) has laid claim to the December 25 date since before the middle of the fourth century. And many of the Orthodox church hold that the birth occurred on January 6. The reasons for these dates are many but typically relate to the dates of the Passover season or the Feast of Tabernacles and the sentiment during the middle fourth century that dates and events were cyclical and occurred with relation to each other.

Of course other theories abound, including the concept that the Church borrowed the dates from pagan practices of the times. While this sounds good and feasible … and even diabolically conspiratory … all probability points away from this because the early Church was a body of people which chose to steer far away from anything pagan. (Certainly, there did come a flood of pagan practices to be related to Christmas but these came also in the fourth century after dated Christmas celebrations began.)

The greater truth is this: the date of Christ’s birth really doesn’t matter; let’s celebrate Him all year long.

roman_empire_by_bamoon-d4hsq3dNow there is something to be said of the adaptation of certain pagan practices.The Roman Empire was built not only on its strength, but also on its syncretism, or ability to adapt what was already found in a place with those practices and principles of the Roman Empire. In other words, they would adapt the current gods of a conquered land into their own panorama of gods, and this even included the adaptation of certain buildings purposed for the worship of these gods into the worship of other gods. We can see this in the invasion of Israel by the Romans. Israel could have bowed under Rome’s pressure like every other country did EXCEPT that Israel WAS NOT willing to incorporate their God into the Roman worship of many gods; they KNEW that God Himself had declared that He was THE ONLY God, that He was ONE, and that Israel should worship NO OTHER. Therefore, the Jews WOULD NOT abide by the addition of other gods and customs because of their reverence and fear of the one, true God.

So, although Christmas now occurs in the season of year that is recognized as a season of Saturnalia and other pagan practices related to the solstice, it probably originated as a December 25 (or January 6) celebration purely out of respect and desire to honor Christ.

Again, if we choose to celebrate Him all year long, we will definitely cross some days that coincide with pagan celebrations … so don’t worry too much about it.

Another controversy that takes place at this time of year is that of the place of the birth of jesus birthChrist. Some say that there was no room for Him in the inn, others say there was no private room for Him in the family household, and others say there was no available space in the family guest room. In all probability, a more proper understanding of the place of His birth is that it DID occur in a home, although it more accurately took place in the animal-keeping area of the home … probably under the house in a hollowed out place. It might even have been a natural cave that a house was built upon … the main thing is that it was a place where animals were kept. It was dirty. It was lowly. It was smelly. But it was a portrait that the Messiah was born to relate to all humankind.

I have had the privilege to go to Israel three times. I have seen two different places that tradition says were the burial places for Christ. I have seen at least two places where he was said to have been born in … one being a church and the other being a cave. I am told that there are other places where He might have been born and where He might have been buried. (By the way, in both places claiming to be the Tomb, He is not in either one … His IS RISEN!)

The point with ALL of this is that we need to simply worship the savior, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. We are not to revere a date, a place, or a tradition; instead, we are to worship Him.

So wherever you are, whatever day of the year it is, and whatever you are doing, why don’t you stop for a moment and praise Him … and thank Him … and exemplify Him.

worship

If this has resonated with you, please drop me an email at jgarrett1958@hotmail.com. Thanks.