Sunday, November 30, 2008

December's Article

No Ordinary Night

It was just another night, until the first pangs of labor struck. With all the usual efforts and pains that accompany birth, a child is born. But this is not just another child. No, this is a child who was prophesied about, who was eagerly anticipated, not merely by his family, but by a nation and by the world. This child would revolutionize how man perceives God and how God relates to man. This child was the "anointed one", the "Prince of Peace" and "Immanuel: God with Us." Yes, this was an extraordinary child.

It was just another night as nearby shepherds tended their flocks. The faint bleating of sheep is the only sound that disturbs the cool night air. Weather-worn men, weary from a day's work, prepare to bed down for the night when the sky explodes. A cacophony of music dispels the quiet as the brightest of light chases darkness away. Men accustomed to dealing with dangers ranging from wild beasts to armed thieves now shake in absolute terror as an army of heavenly beings proclaim the birth of God's own Son. It's as if God is proclaiming that He is the God of everybody, from the pious, religion-minded priests down the social ladder to the blue-collar, work-every-single-day-of-the-week, shepherd. Yes, this was an extraordinary proclamation.

It was just another night, until God stepped into flesh. He traded a throne for a bed of hay; the songs of angels for the bleating of cattle; the streets of gold for the dirt-packed streets of the first-century. now instead of robes of white linen, he was wrapped in the rough homespun of swaddling cloths. Instead of the riches of heaven, he saw the poverty of his earthly parents. Instead of assuming the all-powerful role as the creator and sustainer of the universe, he sacrifices everything to become as helpless as a newborn babe. Yes, this is an extraordinary God.

It was just another night, until Christmas came, then it was extraordinary.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Stolen Symbols

The hype is finally starting to die down after a truly historical election. I wanted to wait to write my thoughts down because I didn't want my objectivity skewed by emotions. America has watched a man with great charisma, eloquence and influence win the highest office in the land despite a short record and very serious questions as to his qualifications. Now, I am not going to waste my time bashing our future president, but I can't help but wonder, how in the world did this happen?
Everyone has a theory. Some say it's a knee-jerk reaction to an unpopular president/war/political party. Others feel it's due to a questionable economy. Yet others feel it's a sign of the times as America drifts further into a post-Christian culture. I think all of these have some veracity to them, but ultimately, I think America chose someone that made them feel better. Love him or hate him, Obama has a command of language that captures an audience and holds them in his sway. As I watched him give his acceptance speech, I saw a man with great passion deliver a message that moved many to tears, others to applause, and others to solemn reflection. His was a campaign of hope, and that struck a chord with the American people.

Hope. People are thirsting for it. They thirst so much, that they are willing to drink whatever this man offers in the name of hope. But the hope they thirst after is not a hope that any politician can fill. They may hope for a "better America" or a "better economy" or merely a "better president," but their hope will go unfulfilled. For the hope that the human soul longs after is not one born of this physical world. The only hope that will slake the thirsting of our souls is the hope offered in Christ Jesus.
Do we want a better America? Then reach people with the true Message of Hope: the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Changed lives are what will change America. Changed hearts are what will alter her course. Changed souls are what will turn her back to God. Changed policies and an idealism based on pure personality will never change America for the better.

Obama ran a campaign based on a theme stolen from Christianity. I don't believe he stole it on purpose, but he did realize that the chord of hope resonates deep within our souls. This world is stealing the symbols of our message and redefining them for their own purposes. The sign of God's protection to Noah, the rainbow, has been distorted to become a symbol of the homosexual movement. The cross, while a symbol of God's love for us, has become to many nothing more than a stylish piece of jewelery. And now the symbol of hope has been reduced to a campaign slogan. Obama may say he supports a woman's "reproductive rights," but in reality he supports state-sanctioned murder. He may support gay rights, but what he is advocating is the degeneration of the divine institution of marriage and the family. Why all the verbal gymnastics? Obama wants to be politically correct and popular. What he doesn't realize is the spiritual reality of what he is saying/doing. Satan is redrawing the battle lines by redefining terms. Why? To confuse the message of Christ. To make Christ-followers look intolerant, insensitive and out-of-touch. Now, more than ever, we must make sure we speak plainly on moral issues while offering God's message of grace and mercy.

Let's take back our symbols. Let's proclaim a true hope. A hope that says we serve a God that changes hearts and lives everyday. Now there's a change we can believe in. We have to if we are to have any hope for the future.

Hoping in Christ,