Tag Archives: Christmas

Thankful For God’s Pursuit – Christmas Reminder

Here we are, just two days from Christmas.  Such an awesome time of year and has always been one of my favorites in terms of traditions with family now and in years past as a kid.  As I wrote last week, I’ve also gained  new perspective on Christmas and one that I realized last year and now more than ever as I see the turmoil our world is in.  I am given a stark reminder of God’s willingness to pursue our hearts and restore us by invading this world, sneaking behind enemy lines through the womb of a teenage girl.

If you think that Christmas was is not part of the spiritual war that takes place, you have not read enough into the Christmas story.  It’s far more than just a manger, shepherds, wise men, animals, and gifts.  It is war.  This part seems to always be overlooked, or if not overlooked, minimalized.  Read Matthew 2 and really soak that in.   Starting in verse 13, Matthew shares of an angel coming to Joseph and telling him to take Mary and Jesus into Egypt until they are told to return.  Herod was coming to kill Jesus.  Starting in verse 16, we learn of the ‘massacre of the innocence,’ when all male children under the age of 2 were slaughtered by Herod’s soldiers.

The real  and true story of Christmas is an invasion, a great battle, and the demonstration of God’s love for us that he was willing to leave his thrown put on a robe of flesh and become fully man so that we may be restored and come fully alive in the holiness we were meant for.

I for one, am ever thankful for God’s continuous pursuit of my hearts.  No matter how far I ran, He never gave up on me.  His Word shows that He would never give up on me and I see that now as I see the story of my life played out.  Because of Jesus, I can now live.  As Paul writes in Ephesians 4, I can now put on my new nature and leave my old self behind, and now begin to pursue living as God created me and all of us to be as His image bearers, imago dei.  

I know I have written about this before and even some last week, but I think it is so important to remember.  Don’t get so caught up in the commercialized and traditional side of Christmas that you forget the true story and what is, in fact, going on.  The story goes a lot deeper and God is showing us that He is willing to go wherever we are, even to sneak in and walk among us in order to restore us to Him.

With that, I want wish you all a very Merry Christmas from my family to all of you.  I pray God’s peace, love, and joy to fill your hearts and your homes.  I look forward to my final post of 2015 next week as I go through what has been an absolutely amazing year of transformation for my heart, my life, and that of my family.  God Bless you all!

FamilyChristmasCard_2015

Unending Pursuit – A Changing View of Christmas

Well today, we are 1 week away from what has always been one of my favorite days of the year, Christmas!  I’m reminded each year of Christmas’s gone by.  Times when I was a kid and the excitement of Christmas morning.  The time we had as a family when all was good and there were no worries in the world.  The trips to my grandparents each year to spend the day with the rest of our family. Then as I was married and had a family, seeing the same joy of Christmas in my children as they have grown.

Something changed, however, in the past couple of years.  I’ve always know that we Christmas was meant to mark the birth of Jesus.  We always see those nice manger scenes all over and the signs that say happy birthday Jesus.  But to me, as I have grown in my walk with God and have grown to know Him more, I know it is so much more than that now.  It is now a reminder each year, despite all of the distractions we have, of God’s endless pursuit of our hearts and His desire to restore us to who we were always meant to be as His children and image bearers.

I wrote about year ago about The Great Invasion that Christmas symbolizes.  God’s willingness to pursue us behind enemy lines and sneak in through the womb of a teenage girl.  It was exactly that.  Jesus’s first coming was a covert action that invaded a world that had been handed over to the prince of this world, Satan, in order to win back the hearts of man.

With that, I see Christmas a reminder each year, that God has been willing to go through some extraordinary lengths in order to restore our hearts to Him.  There are so many that this has been lost on.  Christmas is much more than what we have made it out to be.  There is this one commercial that come on that drive we crazy, where a lady sings that Christmas does not happen without her.  Every time I see it, I say, ‘I beg to differ.’  This secular world has skewed us from what Christmas is.  Because of Jesus’s coming and because of His willingness to live as man and to ultimately die for us, we can be made alive like never before.  We can now freely pursue God and live to glorify Him and be sanctified as saints living for Him.

We have to look at God’s great and epic story to really appreciate this.  It is laid out in His Word, Genesis to Revelation.  His 66 book love story of His desire, after we jacked it all up, of wanting to restore man.  Through all of the failures and trials that man suffered, God was always there with a desire to restore us.  With the coming of Jesus, God gave us the example of who we were meant to be and now we can live alive in Christ.

I love this time of year.  I love the time I get with my family to celebrate the season.  I love old school Christmas songs.  All about the classics.  But now through it all, I recognize and we should all recognize the absolute significance of what Christmas symbolizes.  A God that loves us with out end and was willing to go through extraordinary lengths to win back our hearts.  Something I am ever thankful for.  To have a God that loves me that much that He was wiling to become man, sneak into this world, live as man, and die to set us free.  Heavens invasion of this world, some 2,000 years ago, was just the beginning.

The Great Invasion

I hope all of you are having a great Christmas season.  It’s hard to believe that we are nearing the end of another year.  2014 certainly seemed to fly on by.  As we move into this Christmas season, I find myself reflecting quite a bit about the time Christ was born and what that was like.  What it was like to have that bright star shining down.  What is was like for the shepherds to be in the fields and see an army of angels make them selves present to praise God and celebrating Christs birth.  I wrote on this last Christmas as to just how huge a moment that was to have so many angels appear.  To have the 3 wise men travel so far just to see the new born king.

I have further began to think about what this time was like and just how pivotal of a moment it was.  The birth of Christ was an invasion.  Think about that.  We live in a fallen creation.  We live in a world controlled by Satan because of the fall of man.  This has become his domain.  Due to this, we live in a world full of pain and suffering and so many trials and tribulations.

Christs coming was Heavens invasion of this world.  A covert invasion at that.  Many of the Jewish faith were looking for a king to to rise up to save them.  But God had another plan.  He was going to sneak in behind enemy lines through the womb of a young teenage girl.  He was not going to come in with the pomp of royalty, no.  He was going to come in and be born humbly and without much fan fare.  The fan fare came however in that the angels came to earth to praise God, and many including the wise men came to visit them in Bethlehem in the days and weeks following his birth.

You think this was not an invasion and a battle, then ponder what happened next.  The “Massacre of the Innocents.”  When figuring out this was to be a child born, Herod sent soldiers into Bethlehem to have every boy child under the age of two killed.  Satan knew that the Messiah was born and used Herod to try to kill him.  An angel appeared to Joseph to tell him to take Jesus and Mary and flee to Egypt until Herod was dead and the angel sent word for them to return.

Just take a moment to stop and think of all of this.  I know in Christmas time we always have the wonderful scenes of mangers, Christmas trees, wonderful plays in church with children singing, and many other awesome traditions.  But this Christmas, take time to really reflect on what really happened that night the Word became Flesh.  God incarnate.  Emmanuel.  Can you just imagine how mad this made Satan and his demons.  They know the stage is now set to reach their end.  They are going to lose.  Christ’s birth was God’s great invasion to set all of us, Jew and Gentile free from the bondage of sin and fear of death.  We now have a new Hope in Christ Jesus.  We are now set free.  The Armies of Heaven were victorious when Christ was born, which is why the angels came to shout and praise Glory Hallelujah.  Glory to God in the Highest, Peace on Earth and Goodwill to men.  The battle had been won.  This then set the state for the next great victory in the battle of good and evil when Jesus declared on the Cross that “It is Finished.”

Christmas_Star

Gratitude for Christ Jesus

We are now less than two weeks away from Christmas.  The season seems to be flying by this year as it seems like we just passed Thanksgiving.  I know everyone is busy in the hustle and bustle of their Christmas shopping as we near the big day and celebration.  I look forward to all the time with my family over the coming weeks.  If you recall, in my last post, I wrote about the moment of Christ’s birth and how pivotal that moment was in the history of the world.  So profound that the armies of heaven came down to sing praises and glory to God.  Simply amazing.

As we near closer to the day and through all of the craziness that has started to accompany this season, have you stopped to reflect on Christ and His purpose for coming.  As you know I read through scripture everyone morning.  Part of my reading right now includes devotional on Christmas Carols and the meaning behind them.  One this week, was on “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”    Particularly from that song, was a focus on the words, “Mild He lays His glory by; Born that man no more may die. Born to raise the sons of earth; Born to give them second birth.”

Christ came to this world to save us from our sins and the fate we deserved as a fallen creation.  He set aside his glory and took the punishment we so much deserve so that we could be re-born through Him.  1 Peter 1:3 says “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation.”  Christ came and gave his life to give us new life.

Reflect on that today.  Remember what the purpose of Christ was.  Not just that He was born in a manger in Bethlehem, but the reason for it all.  He came here for each and everyone of us.  How amazing!  Reflect on this today and throughout the season.  Give thanks to Jesus for what He did for us.  We did not deserve it, but because of God’s unfailing love, we now have new life.  I am grateful everyday for this.

The Christmas Season Has Arrived

I hope everyone of you had a very Happy Thanksgiving, those readers here in the US at least.  We are now entering what has to be my absolute favorite time of year, as it is for many more.  That of course is Christmas!  I have many great memories throughout the years of Christmas.  Waking up early to sneak downstairs when I was younger, the time with my family in the morning opening gifts and just hanging around, and then making our trip over to my grand parents house in the afternoon to spend the rest of the day with them and aunts, uncles, and cousins.  Since I became a husband and father, my joy now is with my wife and kids.  The traditions we have of decorating the house the day after Thanksgiving.  No shopping for us.  The joys of Christmas morning to see their faces light up when they open their own gifts and the great time we have to spend together.

The biggest and most important part of the season of course, is the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  That is the reason we celebrate Christmas each year.  Part of my annual tradition is to add to my daily time in scripture, devotionals and readings about the birth of Christ and the prophecies leading up to his birth and so forth.  This year, I chose to go with a 25 day devotional that unlocks the themes behind many of our favorite Christmas Carols.  It’s great reading.

My devotional yesterday, covered “Angels We Have Heard on High.”  This really made me stop and think about that moment when Christ was born.  In Luke 2, Luke describes the shepherds in the fields that night and an angel appearing before them to announce the birth and “Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”” (Verse 13-14 (NLT)).

Have you ever really stopped to think about that moment and how profound that really was?  This was the most profound event that had or has ever happened in our history.  God came into this world as a human, as Christ Jesus.  Our savior, to deliver us and set us free from the slavery of our own sin.  This even was so profound that the angels of heaven, the armies of heaven made their presence known here on earth to sing praises to God.  It is such a pivotal moment in human history since our creation.

When I stopped to think about that, it was absolutely amazing.  I never had really reflected on just how profound that moment was.  In actuality, we can’t even begin to comprehend the true glory of that moment. It’s amazing to really think about though.  It has been weighing on my mind so much the last 24 hours, that I had to make sure I shared my reflection of the moment.   Just goes to show more and more just how awesome our God is.  How He has continued to show his unfailing love for each us.  No matter what, He will not abandon us.  What amazing love!!!

I will reflect more on Christmas over the next month with you all, but for now, I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas!  Enjoy this great time of year!

Merry Christmas from 4 Pillar Living

Christmas has arrived!  This, by far is one of my favorite times of the year and always has been since I can remember.  I fondly remember the years growing up and the anticipation of this day.  Waking up in the pre-dawn hours to sneak down stairs and see what the jolly ole’ elf had brought us.  As a father, that that joy has continued with the joy of their faces on Christmas morning and the wonderful traditions we have established over the last 15 years as a family.  Through all of that, the one that has remained a constant and I strive to ensure my children never forget, is why we celebrate this season.  It is a celebration of the day that God stepped into this world to deliver his promise of salvation through Jesus Christ.  Celebrating the birth of Jesus is near and dear to Christian faith.  It is also a celebration of the peace that is possible in our lives through Jesus and developing that personal relationship with him as your savior.

Often times, people get so worked up and stressed out, especially this time of year trying to find those right gifts, or stressed that they may not be able to afford much for Christmas if anything at all.  Many times, this can cause strife in the home between couples who get more stressed out about finances.  I have been there.  But one thing I have learned through the struggle is that building that personal relationship with Christ and turning back to God is the best way to get through any of those struggles.

I was up early Sunday morning, and watched a sermon from Dr. Charles Stanley from First Baptist Church Atlanta, while the family was still sleeping.  He spoke of Jesus, The Prince of Peace and how peace in our own lives, real peace, was only possible through our relationship with Christ.  Many times in our lives we encounter situations that we just wonder why would God allow this kind of struggle, or why would He allow suffering such as in Newtown, CT.  Dr. Stanley mentioned one thing that was very real and caught my attention.  He mentioned that we do find God when things are great and we have plenty of money.  No, the struggles are when people turn to Him.  These struggles are  wake-up to turn back to Him.  No matter what kind of struggle may be in front of you, whether it is finances at Christmas time or whatever it may be, by turning back to God and to prayer, you will build the foundation to pull from those struggles.  Let Him take over.  He can bring you through any struggle in life and His promise for salvation and peace is so real.

I will approach this much more as we move forward, but with all of that said, I would like to wish each and everyone of you a very Merry Christmas from my family to yours.  May the Lord’s blessings shine down on each of you and your families.

Take care and God Bless!

Clinton Family Christmas 2012