A Christmas To Celebrate

What’s In A Name?

Whether you like yours or not, your name has significance. There is a reason your name is what it is. The reason may be silly, or dumb in your opinion, but the fact is there was reason behind picking that name for you.

My middle name was picked in honor of my great-grandpa. Parts of my children’s names were chosen because of the connection to family, or my wife and mine’s personal feelings about the names.

Our name has meaning. It identifies who we are. And our last name ties us to our family and it’s past.

Jesus was no different. While the use of last names as we know them today was not common in Ancient Jewish culture, Jesus would have probably been referred to as Jesus son of Joseph. So why do we see Him often called Jesus Christ?

It’s a reference that looks strangely like our modern day name structure. It would be easy to think that it’s a typical first-last name thing. And while yes, we often use the two names together, Christ is not Jesus’ last name.

No, the name Christ has much greater significance than a last name holds.

Christ was not just a name to identify Jesus. It was a title, a recognition of rank and role. To really understand the significance of this though, you have to understand the history of the word. The word Christ we find today in Scripture is the English translation of Christŏs, which is a transliteration of the Greek Χριστός. All this to say, we are only half way there.

The Greek Christŏs is defined as anointed, messiah. It is a word built upon another (chriō) meaning to smear or rub with oil, to consecrate. The Ancient Hebrew’s idea of a Messiah was very similar, and it is from the Hebrew Mâshîyach that our Greek Christŏs is rendered from. This Hebrew word, transliterated from משׁיח, is our English word Messiah.

For the Hebrew, the adjective mashiach (anointed) was primarily a title associated to a king. Defined as anointed, a consecrated person, they were viewed as the representative before the people for God. Jump back to Jesus, and the title Christ now has such deeper significance!

Jesus was the Christ. He was the Messiah, the anointed and consecrated One. Set apart to fulfill the mission of Salvation, by first leaving His heavenly throne to be born in flesh.

Walk this earth.

Die in my place on a cross.

This is who and why we celebrate at Christmas. The beginning of what is the most pivotal life and mission in eternity. The birth of Jesus Christ. The true Messiah, born so He could die for you.

And I, I celebrate the day

That You were born to die

So I could one day pray for You to save my life

I Celebrate the Day, Reliant K

Roots

Knowing where you come from, your past, is important.

Anyone who knows me well, knows I have developed a love for genealogical research over the years. There is satisfaction and happiness I get from successfully learning and tracing my ancestral roots as far back as I possibly can.

With the revelation of my interest and fascination often comes the question why. Why do I invest the time, the money, at times my emotions (as it can be frustrating!)?

Why is this venture so important?

While I can give a list of reasons, they are generally summed up in this one belief I hold.

Knowing where you come from, your past, is important.

Ancient Jews knew this as well, and it’s importance is made clear with regards to Jesus. In Scripture we find two thorough genealogical accounts for Jesus; Matthew 1:1-17, and Luke 3:23-38. One traces Jesus’ lineage to Abraham, while the other goes all the way to Adam and God. If you examine the two more closely, you will notice differences where they split and rejoin. Both however draw a clear line to the royal Davidic Throne. In other words, when Jesus is identified as and claims to be King of the Jews, it was one based in genealogical fact. Jesus was an actual legal heir to the royal throne of King David.

But there is more to His lineage than His tie to David that I believe has great significance for us today.

Many of the people contained within Jesus’ lineage had lives and past that were less than holy. Perez was the son of Tamar, who tricked her father-in-law Judah to sleep with her as a prostitute, after his first two sons died and he refused to marry his last to her (which was the law). King Solomon was the son of King David through an adulterous relationship that included murder and blatant disregard for kingly duties. Rahab, the mother of Boaz was a prostitute. Ruth was a foreigner from Moab.

Many of the people used by God to fill the lineage of Jesus had issues. In all reality, they were people like you and me.

Broken, sinful, in need of redemption.

But God used them anyway. Despite their messes and mistakes, God used them to bring about His perfect plan for us. He used broken people to bring ultimate healing and restoration through Jesus.

Don’t let your brokenness be a hindrance. Don’t let it be a crutch or an excuse. God can use you despite the mess in your life, but He desires to see you grow and change into the likeness of His Son too.

If God could bring Salvation through the messes of Jesus’ family, don’t you think He can do something in you, through you, despite your mess? God isn’t looking for perfection, He desires obedience.

It’s time for you to stop letting your past or current mistakes hold you back from being obedient. In a season of celebration of Jesus being born on earth, to die for you and me on the cross, there is no better time to commit to obedience.

What’s that look like? Let me know you are taking that step, and let’s talk!

You Are Enough

I know a lot of people who don’t feel adequate.

They have given a lot.

They have loved a lot.

And it becomes easy to feel they have not done enough. Or what they have done, isn’t appreciated.

We easily fall into a trap of placing our worth in the thoughts, feelings, and expressions of others. And it often becomes more prominent this time of year.

Be reminded, your worth is not based on what you give, or how much. Your adequacy is not dependent on the thoughts and feelings of other people.

Your worth is grounded in who Christ is.

And I can assure you He thinks you are adequate.

So much that, He left His throne; He believed you and I were worth becoming flesh, and dying on a cross in our place.

This is who gives us our worth. This is who says you are enough.

Find peace this Christmas, that you are enough because of Christ. He has always loved you.

The Right Time to Love

39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him,[a] saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

– Luke 23:39-43

I have read this passage over and over again through the years. A story well known within the Church, the thief on the cross. I see in it mercy, compassion and grace.

A sinner becoming aware of his condition, and his desire to be rescued.

Another fixated on himself, bound for Hell.

Jesus taking time, despite His own condition and circumstances, to show love.

Taking time to show love.

Jesus models for us in this very moment in Scripture, that the right time to show love is in the present moment. When the opportunity is placed within our path and we come upon it, that is when we show love.

We often get caught up in our own mess. Our own agendas and busyness. We convince ourselves we don’t have the time or energy, or the resources, to show our neighbor we love them.

But we are called, as followers of Jesus, to be different.

To love the unlovable, the ones society throws away, the ones we think are weird. We need to love them now.

It’s what Jesus did. And it’s what He calls us to do.

When do I love? Now. Because it’s always the right time.

Give Thanks, Always

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

– 1 Chronicles 16:34

Growing up, I know now how much I took for granted. Simple things like food, shelter, transportation. More personal things, like hugs from the people you love, or a kiss goodnight when your parents tuck you in bed.

It’s easy as a child to not fully appreciate what we have, to be thankful for the blessings we receive. And all to often, this inability to be thankful follows us into adulthood.

We get caught up with the harsh realities of life, schedules, responsibilities, etc.

And then we pause one day a year to be thankful. We eat good food, hang out with family; all good things. But we ought to be thankful all the time.

I’m always struck by Paul’s letters in the Bible. That despite what he was facing when he wrote most of them, the death threats and persecution, he constantly stayed thankful. He was thankful for the people he wrote to, but he was thankful most of all to Jesus.

Paul understood something we often loose sight of.

Regardless of the situations we face, and regardless of the time of year, we should be thankful always.

I know a lot of people who have encountered hardship, loss of loved ones, broken relationships all this year. For many, life this year has been tough, and it can be tough to find things to be thankful for.

I encourage you, join me in remembering the little things we have. Remember that we are blessed, even in the messes.

Give thanks to the Lord, always.

A Fiery Tongue

Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

It’s a phrase as kids we would say to others when they said something mean. As if the things they said, didn’t really hurt. We would give off this sense of strength.

But often times, it was just a mask. The words hurt. We might not have shown it on the outside. But they hurt, and sometimes deep.

James describes the tongue as a fire, something of great potential disaster.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.

James 3:5b-6

The idea of fire, something that can be so destructive, is made synonymous with the very muscle we use to communicate.

But words will never hurt me.

James seems to be telling us something different. The words you and I speak are important. Without restraint, without careful control, our words can be destructive.

James makes a point to bring our attention to the smallness of the tongue in contrast to the immensity it can unleash in damage.

If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

James 3:3-5a

A small package that packs a big punch.

Our words have significance. They bring life, or they bring death to the one receiving them.

If we are called to love, to be a reflection of Jesus Christ, we cannot leave our tongue unbridled.

Put out the fire, and speak with purpose.

How Can I Love?

Today I had an opportunity.

I shared a part of my story that has perhaps been the most influential part of my faith development.

How can I love someone who I feel has wronged me so deeply, there appears to be no recovery.

Because Jesus did.

And Paul instructs us to walk in His Spirit. The same Spirit that propelled Jesus to the cross, where He hung and died, for His creation when they turned their back on Him.

He loved them despite the hurt.

Check out more here….

https://www.facebook.com/anchorchurchlawrence/videos/564521524380107/

Position of the Heart

The Sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

– Psalm 51:17

You need this.
I need this too.
A reminder of how big God is.
That no matter what situation you are in, or what struggle is staring you down, He is big enough to handle it. It doesn’t matter how messy your life is, or what you have done; He is big enough.
The hurts in my story would not have found healing if I hadn’t been real with God about the pain I felt. That’s why this song strikes a chord in me.
David even got it. A guy, the King, in the midst of his mess wrote this…

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. – Psalm 51:17

He understood what God wants, what He desires. In a time when animal sacrifice was the instructed practice to restore right standing with God, David understood restoration required something deeper.
David understood the value of honest and transparent conversation with God.
And he knew God was big enough to handle anything brought to Him.
Life is messy. It’s hard. But my God, the One who spoke everything into existence, is big enough.
It doesn’t matter what you are facing, what you have walked through, it will never be to messy or big for Him.

Three C’s of Conflict

Courage.
Conviction.
Compassion.

Three words that in any conflict you face, need to surface at some point. And at the same time, can be difficult to embody. They don’t always mix well, and at times can be at odds with each other. That creates conflict within.

I have wrestled with these three words more in the last three years than ever before. And there have been many times my emotions have gotten the best of me, and I have had to take several steps back and correct my course.

One thing I am sure of, is that no matter how tough the battle ahead might be, these three words are ones I must strive to embody. If not for the ones around me who see and are impacted by my decisions, but for the claim I take as a follower of Christ.

I have many more years ahead where this challenge will present itself. And I know you have challenges in your life as well.

Show courage.
Heed conviction.
Practice compassion.