Thursday, December 13, 2012

How to Prepare for Christmas

Outside of the essential groceries, I would rather drink a gallon of milk and go on a roller coaster ride than have to go shopping (especially when it comes to the mall).  There is something that has been fused into my DNA that prevents me from shopping without developing migraines, frustration, and the gout (ok maybe not the gout).  That makes this time of the year particularly difficult.  With so many gifts to buy for my friends and family, holiday shopping reaches a new level of pain (like going from a normal wedgy to an atomic one). 

There are some things in life that are particularly difficult for me to deal with.  It is hard for me to see the Cardinals outperform my beloved Cubbies year after year.  It is difficult to hear my strange alien voice on a recording device.  And it is downright painful for me to go shopping.

This is not only painful for me, but this becomes a real difficult circumstance for my wife who must drag me through the stores like a petulant child with the promises of ice cream and candy if I am good.  Not only am I of no help at shopping, but my present wrapping skills are inept, and my hand writing for Christmas cards is legible only to highly trained graphologist ninjas.  When it comes to Christmas I am hopeless. 

It is amazing to think about all the things we do to get ready for the 25th of December.  We put up lights, a tree, buy and wrap presents; we write Christmas cards and bake cookies.  Christmas is something that we have to prepare for.  When comes to the evolution of Christmas preparation I am prehistoric.  But maybe that is not so bad.

For me Christmas is first and foremost the celebration of the birth of a baby that changed that world as we know it.  Christmas is when I remember the reckless of love of God who became human.  The event shows the love of God, and the length that our Creator is willing to go to reach out to us, forgive us, and give us life.  The question that I ask when it comes to Christmas is how ought I prepare for the birth of the King of Kings?  How do I get ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus the Savior and Son of God?  

The good news is I do not been to be proficient at shopping, or a master present wrapper or a Pulitzer Christmas card writer to prepare for this kind of Christmas.  However, to prepare of a Christmas that celebrates not just gift giving, but the greatest gift ever given, we must do something that comes quite difficult to us, we must wait and be still.

Preparing for Christmas is about waiting, being still, and allowing God to come.  Christmas is a time we ought to not run, but wait for God to come into the world as a baby, and into our life as our King.  We are reminded that it is God's doing that changes things not us.  So if this is the Christmas you want, then I urge you to get ready by putting down the list and wait for God to come once again.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fiscal Cliffs and Political Deficits

Strap on your parachute, attach your bungee cord, and secure all safety harnesses the end is coming.  If they Mayans were wrong and the world does not end on December 21st, than the fiscal cliff will certainly be our demise.  It seems that the leaders of our country who are suppose to be the representatives of the interests of their constituents, have unfortunately only been interested in representing themselves and their party.  The egregious irresponsibility or our leaders has been not just an approaching cliff, but a continual downward spiral that has not hurt our leaders, but the poor of our nation.  Instead of progress we have politicians getting on television and radio stations pointing fingers at each other.

The gap between the rich and poor continue to grow as companies are less likely to share their profits with their employees.  The impractical wages given by our nation's largest employers is insufficient.  The rising cost of education,  the impossibility of owning a home without paying twice as much as it is worth with mortgages, and the impending rise on taxes are clear evidence that our leaders have failed to serve anything but their own agendas.

All that said I do not despair simply because I do not give too much credence to governmental leadership.  I admit that our government has a great amount of power to make life easier or more difficult.  However, the government can never fully provide the things that make life worth living.  While I hope the Fiscal Cliff is avoided, my hope for the New Year is much deeper.

I truly believe that the fully functioning church of Jesus Christ is the best solution to the world's problems. I believe that the Church is the best answer to hurting families, education, Medicare, care for orphans, and care for the elderly.  I understand the Church has made many great mistakes that have caused pain, I understand not every individual church is functioning under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, I understand this makes a lot of people angry and suspicious of the Church.  But the church that confesses to the Lordship of Jesus Christ is the only organization that Jesus promised would not be overcome by hell's gates.  The Church is the only organization that is called the adorned bride of Jesus the Messiah.  The Church is the only organization that is center around relationships with Jesus and with each other.

Governmental programs can be helpful, but they are limited by their paper work and staff.  I have seen the good, but I have also seen the devastating shortfalls of governmental programs such as the Child Protective Agency, Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, rehab, and more.  These programs only go so far, many fall through the cracks, and they are prevented from going deep into people's lives.  The programs are also corrupted by the political process.  The church is only limited by the love of Jesus Christ and its members.  I have been part of a church that has taken time to go further and deeper with people than any government could.  I have seen the Church not only feed the body but feed the soul.  I have seen the Church not only provide shelter, but provide a home.  I have seen the Church not only provide clothes, but also provide warmth.

I have seen the local church do much more good than any other organizations has or could.  This should not be surprising because true change cannot be mandated by a law from our politicians, but real change is something that happens from within.  Real change is allowing God to make you into a new creation, and fill you with the Spirit.  True change comes not from law, organization, or policy, change comes from God's grace manifested through the Church.