Holidays

Out with the Old then In with the New

It’s that time of the year when people want make resolutions to do something new…or do they want to stop doing the old?

Doesn’t it make sense to say out with the old, then in with the new? For how can we create new habits without getting rid of the old ones? Or at least how could the new habits be of any benefit unless we quit the old ones?

This is why before … :

  • we can experience a new birth (Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. – John 3:5)
  • we can be given a new heart and mind (For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.Hebrews 8:10….see Ezekiel 36:25-27 also)
  • we can enjoy a new future (Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. – Colossians 3:2-4)

…we must repent of the old… :

  • way of living (Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.Colossians 3:5-6)
  • way of thinking (And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.Romans 12:2)
  • fate we were heading for (And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.Luke 13:2-3)

After all, if we don’t make room for the new resolutions by clearing out the old habits then how can we expect to see any difference in our life? Unless we see a difference for the better the wrong thing becomes more resolute! This is why we must clean out the old of 2015 before we bring in the new of 2016.

Happy New Year! EA

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Calvinism, Christmas and Theological Incompatibilities

I’m sure that most people who follow a Calvinistic based theological point of view have never thought about it, but Calvinism and Christmas (and by Christmas, I’m talking about the whole gifting-giving aspect of the holiday) are just theologically incompatible.

One, acting right is expected if we want to stay off the naughty list – no excuses. There goes Total Hereditary Depravity.

Two, asking for what we need/want is necessary to getting it. There goes Unconditional Election.

Three, buying gifts for complete strangers is a common deed that is done. There goes Limited Atonement.

Four, there are people who always willingly leave their gift sitting under the tree. There goes Irresistible Grace.

And five, gifts come with responsibilities – abuse them and you can lose them. There goes Perseverance Of The Saints.

Now, all analogies break down at some point (and by that I’m talking about gifts that people give compared to the gift of God’s salvation), but I hope you can see how the accepted simple concepts of man’s gift-giving reveals how unreasonable Calvinistic theology really is in relation to gifts from God.

Maybe this is why poinsettias are the flower of the season instead of TULIPs. EA

Brethren, I speak in the manner of men…” (Galatians 3:15)

Don’t Break The Bank!

Ah, it’s that time of the year when we show people how much we love them…by spending money on them!

I miss you Thanksgiving.

Now I know when it comes to gifts, it’s supposed to be the thought that counts. But I also know that any gift, no matter how thoughtful or thoughtless it may be, costs money. So there’s no way around it when it comes to buying gifts for other people – we’re going to have to spend the green.

But there’s still the question of how much are we going to spend compared to how much do we have to spend?

Here’s where I would like to make a suggestion or two when it comes to avoiding overspending this holiday season:

  • don’t pay for Christmas in July
  • don’t let your eyes get bigger than your wallet
  • don’t worry about what the “Jones’” have under their tree
  • and buy a kid (or anyone else for that matter) a bank instead of breaking it for them.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe there’s a huge blessing in giving needed gifts (Acts 20:34-36). But I also believe the bank account shouldn’t be in red on December 26th because of what was spent for December 25th. EA

There is desirable treasure, and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man squanders it.” (Proverbs 21:20)

Related Articles:

Last Minute Gifts…That Money Can’t Buy

I didn’t put the list together but it’s worth passing along; especially if you’re still shopping for someone on December 23rd!

1. Keep a promise.

2. Keep a secret.

3. Share a dream.

4. Send her favorite flower.

5. Let someone have the last word.

6. Return a smile.

7. Laugh at his story – again.

8. Let someone in line, in front of you.

9. Listen to a child.

10. Listen to an adult.

11. Say something nice to someone.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (James 1:17)

P.S. – Don’t use this list to be a cheapskate!

Don’t Let Your Sweet Tooth Trick You

Proverbs 20:17 says, “Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards, his mouth shall be filled with gravel.

In other words, when we know it’s wrong to say we’d do well to not say it no matter how pleasant it may taste!

It’s important to remember during this candy eating time of the year that many a “sweet tooth’s” have given in to speaking hatefulness, half-truths, whole-lies, twisted words, words in disguise, words of envy and whatever other sinful way of speaking you can think of only to find out that the lasting effects aren’t as pleasant as the temporary flavor it starts out with.

At the end of the day sin will always leave us wounded no matter who our words are aimed at, and if we’re not careful it may steal our ability to enjoy the flavor of God’s grace. EA

Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” 1 Peter 2:1-3

What A Difference A Day Can Make

For those of you reading this today, tomorrow is going to be the 11th day of September; hopefully a date that all reasonably aged Americans remember, for tomorrow will be the 12th anniversary of the horrible terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, and of the plane that went down into that Pennsylvania field.

If you’re like most people, the images of that day are probably seared into your mind. I can remember that day clearly. I remember the weather, the voices on the radio station that I was listening to when the news broke, and I can even remember the driveway that I was pulling into at that moment. I also remember that my relationship with God wasn’t right. Most of all, I remember the uncertainty of that day.

All because of the false faith and very real hate of a handful of people, some three thousand people lost their lives that day with countless others being personally affected by it up to this very moment.

I have often wondered about the people who lost their lives in the attacks. For them September the 10th was business as usual. Families, friends and jobs were left that evening with all expectations of being seen again the next day. The morning after probably started out just like the one before with one major difference – that day, their today, would come with no tomorrow on the Earth! Their present became their future in a very unexpected and heartbreaking way.

There is no doubt that God heard the voices of millions of strangers that day; mine own included. I suppose in many ways it was no different than any other day.

One lesson that finite humanity always needs to be reminded of is that the infinite Lord teaches that we never know what tomorrow will bring (Proverbs 27:1) and that today, the day we have at this moment, this is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Why so many of us leave things up to “chance” I suppose I’ll never understand, but one thing is certain: God doesn’t want us to wait for tomorrow to be made right with Him!

We don’t fully know what the people who died on September 11th had planned on doing that day, but we do know it was never done. And we never know when that changing day for us may be the tomorrow around the corner.

God willing, tomorrow will be September the 11th, 2013 for both you and I. That is, unless this is the day that will make a big difference in our tomorrow.

Please continue to pray for the patience and longsuffering and providence and healing of Almighty God for our government, for our country, for our soldiers and for those who are still wounded from the attacks made on the day that made such a difference. EA

Seek the Lord when he can still be found; call him while he is yet near. Let the wicked abandon their ways and the sinful their schemes. Let them return to the Lord so that he may have mercy on them, to our God, because he is generous with forgiveness. My plans aren’t your plans, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my plans than your plans.” (Isaiah 55:6-9 – CEB)

Drop The Ball

Drop the ball – whenever you hear that phrase it’s usually made in reference to someone messing something up, but not when it comes to the New Year!

“Drop the ball” in that context means starting over. It has to do with America’s tradition of watching the “Ball” in New York City drop to light the New Year’s sign when the clock strikes 12:00…or 11:00 if you live in the Central Standard Time Zone. A lot of people enjoy keeping that tradition, while others enjoy sleeping. Eh, to each his own when it comes to that.

So what does that “ball” and the New Year bring with it?  I don’t know honestly. We all have hopes but the fact of the matter is we just don’t know.  Some things can completely depend on us while other things are completely out of our hands. As for the things we can’t control, more prayer in the New Year can help.

But how about the things we can control? Things like spending more time with family, becoming more evangelical or growing stronger in our own devotion to God. When it comes to things like that the “ball” is in our court.

This year, start a new family tradition that lets you “unplug” and spend more valuable time with your family. Use Bible tracts to give to others so they can learn more about the Bible and the salvation that its pages contains (Heart to Heart, House to House has a great selection that covers various topics). If you’re not a member of the church of Christ, make a “resolution” to visit the worship services or Bible Study services of a local congregation in your area.

The New Year gives us a new “ball” of sorts.  I dare you to “drop it” and start living for God. EA

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

(2 Corinthians 5:17)

Eight Gifts That Do Not Cost A Cent

I don’t know the author’s name who put these eight gifts together but it’s a great list, and it’s worth passing along.

The Gift of Listening…but you must really listen. No interrupting, no daydreaming, no planning your response. Just listening.

The Gift of Affection…be generous with appropriate hugs, kisses, pats on the back, and hand-holds. Let these small actions demonstrate the love you have for family and friends.

The Gift of Laughter…clip cartoons. Share articles and funny stories. Your gift will say, “I love to laugh with you.”

The Gift of a Written Note…it can be a simple “Thanks for the help” note or a full sonnet. A brief, handwritten note may be remembered for a lifetime, and may even change a life.

The Gift of a Compliment…a simple and sincere, “You look great in red,” “You did a super job,” or “That was a wonderful meal” can make someone’s day.

The Gift of a Favor…everyday, go out of your way to do something kind.

The Gift of Solitude…there are times when we want nothing better than to be left alone. Be sensitive to those times and give the gift of solitude to others.

The Gift of a Cheerful Disposition…the easiest way to feel good is to extend a kind word to someone. Really, it’s not that hard to say, “Hello,” or “Thank you.”

There’s nothing wrong with putting an emphasis on spending when it comes to gifts at this time of the year, as long as the emphasis isn’t on money.

Strive to out give others in a way that causes others to strive to give! EA

I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

(Acts 20:35)

“Apology” Letter

This was forwarded to me in an email. There are enough faux-trees out there for the season, so a faux-apology should fit right in. I thought it was hilarious, but I hope it doesn’t give anyone any ideas!

Hi Sweetheart,

I am sorry about getting into an argument about putting up the Christmas lights. I guess that sometimes I feel like you are pushing me too hard when you want something. I realize that I was wrong and I am apologizing for being such a hard-headed guy. All I want is for you to be happy and be able to enjoy the holiday season. Nothing brightens the Christmas spirit like Christmas lights! I took the time to hang the lights for you today; and now I will be off to the hockey rink.

Again, I am very sorry for the way I acted yesterday.  I’ll be home later.

Love you……

Her response –

Hi Honey,

Thank you for that heart-felt apology. I don’t often get an apology from you, and I truly appreciate it. I, too, felt bad about the argument and wanted to apologize. I realize that I can sometimes be a little pushy. I will try to respect your feelings from now on.Thank you for taking the time to hang the Christmas lights for me.  It really means a lot. In the spirit of giving, I washed your truck for you; and now I am off to the mall.

I love you too!

There’s nothing too funny about the notes, but what made me laugh was the pictures that described what those “sweet” words really meant:

  Truck under water

A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22)

P.S. – Remember to show real love to your spouse! (Ephesians 5:22-33) EA

Thanking God for His…

Thanksgiving Day is around the corner along with the opportunity it brings for reflection. Your life at this moment in time may be quite a bit different than it was this time last year. From our point of view some things may be worse and some things may be better, but as a child of God there is one thing that has remained exactly the same; and it is something that we can all be thankful for.

We may not always see or remember this thing, much less be thankful for it, but it has remained a constant regardless. This year, no matter where we may be or who we may be with, we can have our heart set on giving thanks for God’s holiness.

Psalm 30:4 says, “Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.”

The unseen angels in Heaven remind us all that God is a “holy, holy, holy” giver and sustainer of life, and of mercy and justice (Isaiah 6:1-3). Our selfish and unthankful hearts have done our Creator wrong numerous times, but still yet His holiness moves Him to do us right by providing us with reasons and opportunities to be thankful:

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45)

giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:12-14)

Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (James 1:16-17)

If we were to be completely honest mankind would have to admit that we take God’s holiness for granted because we misunderstand what God’s holiness is all about. A better understanding of holiness is important because we must reflect God’s holiness in our lives, no exceptions!

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:” (Hebrews 12:14)

A better understanding of God’s holiness and how it works and why we should be thankful for it comes only from the study of His word and personal reflection upon on it. Of all the things that our hearts may remember this coming day of thankfulness, let’s remember to leave some room on the list for the holiness of the Almighty God. EA

– Abraham Lincoln’s Proclamation of 1863 –

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God.

We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to God that made us!