Tag Archive: Jesus



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.


The Bible tells us an important story concerning the place of the delivery of Jesus by His mother, Mary.

3 All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census.4 And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee.5 He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant. (Luke 2:3-6 NLT)

no room 4The Bible tells us that during the birth of Jesus, there was found no room for Him in the normal lodging places.

Certainly there are many facets to this story than can be exhaustively discerned in this blog; the question that I want to confront each of us with is this: Is there room in your heart for Him?

Many images are found throughout Scripture of times when God’s chosen people had no room in their lives for God … and times have not changed so much as many may think.

There is a popular video that is found on the internet and in popular leadership books concerning the placement of many objects in some type of container. The objective is that as we fill the container with instantly gratifying things, we do not leave room for the important things; conversely, as we cleanse our lives of the instantly gratifying things and begin to place those things of greatest importance to our lives in the container, more room is left for the other things.

Here is one of those brief videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmV0gXpXwDU

no room 2downloadWhile this video is particularly focused on time management, the principle shown carries over to relationships, particularly our relationship with Jesus Christ.

And rarely is this more evident than at this particular season of the year.

As we approach the season known for the birth of our Savior, we also face the season known for the hustle and bustle of shopping, eating, going, and everything else.

The pertinent question I want to ask in this hour is this: Is there room in your heart for our Savior this season … and all other seasons?

At Christmas time, I often listen to a local radio station that features 24/7 Christmas music well before Thanksgiving day. They are a commercial station which means that commercials are interspersed throughout their daily playlists. That’s not a problem; that is how they are sponsored and I get that. However, there are a few commercials that play throughout the day that feature one of these “hey-let’s-rattle-off-the-legal-details-as-quickly-as-we-can-because-it-has-to-take-place-but-we-don’t-want-to-take-up-precious-airspace-for-those-important-but-minute-details.” When I hear these, I am quickly made aware that these folks are rendering their own version of what is really important for Christmas. One of these ads tells me that they KNOW what my wife wants for Christmas; diamond jewelry. Another soon beckons that I NEED a new car for Christmas. And yet another tells me that I need the latest new toy.

no room 3And immediately after we have experienced a time of giving thanks to God (aka Thanksgiving), we enter into the season of the self: Black Friday, Cyber Monday … and who knows what we will come up with next. These are all days when retailers supposedly offer their best pricing for the entire year. What actually takes place though, is that we see signs of the self-indulgent greediness of our modern society. Have you seen videos clips of the fight scenes in some of the stores over TV bargains or other electronics deals. http://socialnewsdaily.com/45985/5-of-the-best-in-store-fights-from-black-friday-2014/

Even though I am appalled by these signs, more so I am faced with the understanding that all of this is a characterization of another distraction from our relationship with God.

While I could drone on concerning these various situations, I want to focus on my premise for writing this paper: to ask if there is room in our hearts for God this Christmas season (or any other time, for that matter.)

Have you found yourself without time for prayer?

Have you found that church is often difficult to attend because it is so early in the morning (or late on a Saturday afternoon … or conflicting with a child’s rehearsal/practice)?

Mary and Joseph found a place of shelter where the Christ-Child could be birthed.

If we will diligently seek, we, too, will find a place for relationship with Christ in our hearts and in our life-situations.

no roomSo again I ask, is there room in your inn?

Is there room in your heart for Christ this Christmas season?

Is there room in life-situations for Christ to be honored, adored, and proclaimed?


As I pull my keys out of my pocket right now, I find that I have 10 keys on this particular key ring (plus, I keep another key ring in the car that holds about 15-20 other keys.) It is interesting that some of these keys are very different from the others. And other keys seem very similar to yet others in the group. Still, no two of these keys will open the same lock.

KeysIn fact, on my key ring, I have four Schlage keys. Even though these look the same and, in fact, will “fit” into the same locksets, they will not open the same locksets. They are intentionally cut differently, though they may have some similarities.

On a similar note, have you ever gone to fill in those “blanks” on on-line credit card submissions, only to find that the month (or some other piece of information) was not going in as it should? In other words, your submission was being rejected … continuously.

I get this a lot! My birth month is August, meaning that in some circumstances, I enter “08” and others, I enter “Aug” or “August.” What is interesting is the fact that it is not Fill in the blanksan “either/or” situation; it is one or the other and the improper choice will just not fit.

Now “what is this all about?” you may ask. I am always fascinated by individuals that are continually trying to fit things, stuff, people, deeds, etc. into an area of life where only one thing fits and works. The great philosopher and mathematician, Blaise Pascal once said,

What else does this craving and this helplessness proclaim but that there was once in a man a true happiness of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him … though none can help since this infinite abyss can only be filled … by God Himself.1

St. Augustine of Hippo made a similar declaration: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”2

GodShapedHoleWe have often attempted to accumulate items in our lives as a means to attain happiness, and just as often, have been met with disappointment, loss, or failure.

Many have attempted to surround themselves with friends and popular individuals in order to satisfy some inner urge to gain happiness that way; instead, they have often been met with dissatisfaction, disillusionment, and regret.

And yet others have attempted the path of the performance of great deeds, distribution of massive amounts of money to worthy causes, and others, even to the enactment of holy and self-sacrificial living, all for the purpose of gaining some amount of favor with God.

Jesus Himself addressed such quests with these words

Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.”

Jesus replied, “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”

Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods.  And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’

“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” (Luke 12: 13-21 NLT)

The truth is this: God wants a relationship with us. And all of the stuff, friends, money, and deeds that we have or do … do not influence Him one bit. We can attempt to insert “August” in the slot that will only accept “08” all that we want but there is still only one thing that will fit in that particular box.

We can attempt to insert any key … or a key that “looks” like a good way (i.e. a different religion or philosophy … or even the performance of good works) and we will continue to find that it is only God and His grace that fit the slot, that fit the lockset, that fill the vacuum in each of our lives.

I want to encourage each one today to know that Jesus Christ is our ONLY answer and that the application of His grace in our lives is the ONLY way to true relationship with God.

While other things MAY have a place, it is ultimately … and ONLY Jesus that makes the real difference in our lives.

So as you wander on this journey of life, appreciate the gifts, appreciate the things, appreciate the friends, and appreciate the opportunities.

BUT don’t waste time on the religions. Don’t waste time on the philosophies. Don’t waste time on the “feel good” side-ventures of self-help and positive thinking.

Instead, fill in the proper blanks with the corresponding proper answers. Instead, use the ONLY right key. Instead, rely on, know, explore, and love the ONE TRUE ANSWER: Jesus.Empty tomb

 

1http://www.silverbirchchurch.com/new-to-church/that-god-shaped-hole/. Accessed November 11, 2014

2https://trustingortripping.wordpress.com/tag/god-shaped-hole/. Accessed November 11, 2014

Overwhelmed


Have you ever felt overwhelmed with something in your life?

We are continually faced with news reports of war in the Middle East, world-wide terrorism, and the growing threat of militant Islam. Just this morning, I read a threat to America from a zealot saying that it was too late to defend ourselves against the various threats; they were already too big and continuing to grow.

But you know, the truth is that we are going about this all wrong!

Oh, but before I go further … then we have movies and books telling us that Christians are all about to escape these life events. That’s what is really scary because such teaching provides a false hope of escapism.

Now I DO believe that Jesus IS COMING to meet His bride BUT…

300px-UA_Flight_175_hits_WTC_south_tower_9-11_editThere are people groups RIGHT NOW facing horrors that many of us cannot even imagine.

Tell the Christians in Syria that they are going to escape the threat and reality of being murdered for their faith.

Tell the families of victims of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Senegal that they are going to escape sickness, pain, and death.

We are looking for an escape …

… and missing the reality of the NOW hope of Jesus Christ.

He is with us when we are overwhelmed.

He is with us when terror strikes.

He is with us when sickness attaches to our bodies.

He is with us when death enters of familial homes.

ebola-in-usHe is with us regardless the circumstance and His Word tells us that He never leaves us or forsakes us (Matthew 28:20b).

Again, Jesus IS COMING to meet His bride BUT it is a false hope for us to believe that we (as Americans) are somehow going to escape all of this when Christians all across the earth are facing a NOW reality of these things.

So here is my plea:

1) Let’s put a renewed trust in Christ. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” (NLT).

2) Let’s pray with a fervency greater than we have ever known. James 5:16 reminds us that God DOES hear the pleas of His people- “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results” (NLT). That means that if we will really mean business with God, He means business with us. He hears us. He answers us.

Go ahead, lose sleep while you’re praying.

Go ahead, weep some tears while you’re praying.

Go ahead, see God move while you’re praying.

3) Let’s do our part in the trust process. Solomon had just finished the construction of the Temple and God appeared to him in the night with certain words. (2 Chronicles 7:11-22) Among these words, God set forth some conditional statements. He told Solomon that there would be times of disaster and horror in the earth. And then He introduced a VERY IMPORTANT word, “Then”.

“Then” means “at that time” or “in that given event.” In other words, God was telling Solomon that difficult times would still be ahead … but that WAS NOT time to turn FROM God; instead, it was time to turn to Him as never before. 2 Chronicles 7:14- “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land” (NLT).

So God sets this before His chosen people who are called by His Name:

A) They are to humble themselves. This means that they are to recognize WHO God is and in turn, they are to recognize who they are. They are, in fact, nothing without Him.

B) They are to pray. Not only are they to speak with God BUT they are to listen to God, and they are to be willing to respond accordingly to what He tells them.

C) They are to seek God’s face. Remember, this was written to the people who had heard the following blessing often:

‘May the Lord bless you and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.’ (Numbers 6:24-26 NLT)

They equated the Face of God with the favor and grace of God. So in other words, they were to seek His face or His favor in their lives, in their people, and in their land.

D) They are to repent. They are to turn from their wicked ways. And in this sense, wickedness is further stretched to mean ALL thoughts, words, and actions that are displeasing to God. They are to change their ways of thinking AND their corresponding actions.

E) And in turn, God will heal their land.

Now many would tell us that this is Old Testament and therefore, no longer applicable to God’s people. But Jesus NEVER disavowed the Old Testament; in fact, He Himself told us that He came to fulfill or complete the Old Testament. And His continual quoting and referencing of the Old Testament clearly indicates His approval of what was written therein.

rapture-postcard-640x437So when we are overwhelmed, when we are threatened, when we are fearful … it is not time to look for the big escape. It is not time to put our trust in the doctors or in the military (although we ARE thankful for both the medical profession AND the military profession.) Instead, it is time to put our trust in Him.

Will you join me in taking this endeavor to task … to humbling ourselves and recognizing His magnitude and simultaneously, our smallness … to praying to Him with a preparedness to listen to and to obey … to seeking His face, grace, and favor … and to repenting of ALL of our sins, wrong-doings, wasted words, and uncontrolled thoughts.

We live in a world of uncertainty … and we DO look forward to being with Jesus … but let’s don’t wait until that time of His returning to do something.

Let’s not get caught up so much in watching for His return that we forget to maintain a close relationship today.

Let’s do something NOW!

Let’s stay prepared NOW!

Hope in the future is always a NOW hope.

Let’s trust HIM!

Let’s put our hope in Him … Now!

Write Pastor Jim  at jgarrett1958@hotmail.com


I had a very exciting conversation with a young lady today. She was telling me that she had once began her studies to become a veterinarian but gave up because she was having too many difficulties with the studies. She obviously does have a learning difficulty but she had determined that her difficulty was simply too hard to carry on with her task so decided to lower her expectations a little to switch and become a veterinary technician.

As she was telling me her new goals, which she has been working on for about a year now, you could visibly see her lighten up and you could hear the excitement in her voice. In fact, she told me that wanted to tell many people of her new goal in life.

The excitement I heard, and that I related back to her, was her passion. She was iterating her passion. And it was contagious.

I have no doubt that Amanda will go on to finish her studies and will become a veterinary technician.

And I am pretty sure that she will specialize beyond that.

Why?

Because she was and is in the zone of her passion.

Passion is that objective that you have to have. You eat it, drink it, dream it … and live it.

And passion will carry you through in times when otherwise you might want to quit or give up.

And I know passion.

And I think we all know passion.

When is the last time you ever dreamed something so hard that you couldn’t let it go?

When’s the last time that you really lit up when you were talking about something … or someone?

When is the last time that you wanted something so badly that you knew you couldn’t live without it?

That’s passion.

A story is often told of a young boy who desperately wanted to learn a martial art. It is said that he sought out the training of a wise, old sensei.

In the boy’s search of the old man, he did find him. And he found him fishing in the middle of a stream.

The boy waited patiently on the side of the stream for what seemed like hours … simply in pursuit of being recognized by the old man.

Finally, the old man looked over at the boy and said to him, "boy, what is it that you desire?"

The boy anxiously responded to him, "Oh great master, I desire to learn your martial arts."

The old man simply looked away and continued fishing … seemingly ignoring the young boy.

After a while longer, he again looked over at the young boy and said, "boy, what is it that you desire?"

Again, the boy responded, "Oh great master, I desire to learn your martial arts."

And again, the old man simply looked away and continued fishing.

Finally, after another hour or so, the old man looked over at the boy and said to him, "boy, what is it that you desire?"

And, as the boy had before responded, he said "Oh great master, I desire to learn your martial arts."

The old man motioned for the boy to come out into the water with him.

The boy, desiring NOT to show his excitement, waded out into the water to the old man.

When the boy reached the sensei, the sensei violently grabbed, pushed, and held the young boy’s head under the water.

The boy struggled violently as well.

..until at last, four bubbles come from his mouth

…then three bubbles

…then two bubbles

… then one bubble

At which the old man, grabbing the boy by the hair, lifted him out of the water … obviously (and literally) dying for air.

And the old man looked at the boy and said to him, "Son, when you want to learn the martial arts from me … as much as you wanted that next breath of air … come back and I will teach you.

This is an illustration of the power of passion.

Passion causes us to come back when all Hell is coming against us.

Passion is that thing that causes us to NOT give up when nothing else seems to be going our way.

Passion is what finds us successful.

Why?

Because passion creates within us an "I’ve got to have it … or die trying" attitude.

So again, I ask each reader today … what are you passionate about? And what’s it going to take to see your passion fulfilled?

And when you have answered those questions … carry on …. and see your passion come to fruition.