Saturday, December 20, 2008

Close Doesn't Count...

I like horse shoes. Haven't played it in nearly a decade but I've always enjoyed it when I can play it. Maybe this spring we'll set something up in our back yard. Seems like we even have a now-banned-as-unsafe set of "lawn darts" from the 70's somewhere. I think my mom has them.

We all, in the natural sense, like to play in the margins. We like the give and take. "Kind of" hitting the target but if we don't quite do it, well, that's ok. And I think that's the appeal of lawn darts and horse shoes. It allows us to get in the vicinity of the goal and as long as we get closer than anyone else, hey, that's wonderful...we all go home feeling like we've accomplished something.

But God doesn't call us to live and play in the margins. He doesn't call us to compare ourselves to others who call themselves Christians, who compare *them*selves to even others who call themselves Christians...and on down the line. He calls us to compare ourselves to Him and His Word.

I think I'm pretty typical of many who would name the name of Christ. Foreign missions work has a certain appeal to me. Seeing the pictures of the poor in other countries. The hungry. You want to help them. You give some money or something for whatever reason. Some to merely salve their guilty conscience because they've been whining about their slow internet connection or that the chicken didn't turn out right this afternoon. Some even because they really care to get the gospel (or what they believe to be the Gospel) to those who need it.

Where I live we have lots of churches. Our town has always been known for being populated by two things -- church buildings and bars. That's changed somewhat as the factories have closed down because we seem to have more eateries per square inch than ever before.

Over the past year I've had the opportunity to visit many of the local churches long enough to get a feel for what they value. One of them I attended as long as 36 years ago while dating my first girlfriend. 

At least one of these churches takes what appears to be great pride in sending people on missions trips. Just a month or two. Maybe longer. And when the people come back they tell everything about what they did -- usually it amounts to giving out food and clothing which of course is a valid thing to do. Every great once in a while you'll hear them mention the Gospel. 

But what gets me is how people make such a spiritual thing about "going out there somewhere" to some foreign country to "do missions work". Someone comes back from one of these trips and it's made out to be some large accomplishment. And maybe sometimes it is...maybe someone actually begins to think about someone other than themselves or something other then their own needs.

But what I don't understand is the pomp and circumstance that surrounds all this "go to the foreign mission field" stuff while we won't even go to our neighbors who are lost? And why is this? The principle that the Scriptures teach is that if you are shown to be faithful with little you will be given more. Jesus said that in Luke 16.

I can't know the motive of those who do this. Maybe it's genuine concern. Maybe it's a sense of adventure. Perhaps it could also be for the sake of "spiritual appearance". Maybe a mixture of each and a few more things.

But what does this say of us? Does it not say something of "missions as a hobby"? Or maybe even "the Christian life as a hobby"?

You say "How dare you say that!" I can hear people in my town saying that! But my response is "If you are really so all fired concerned about the lost, why can't you even present the gospel to your next door neighbor? You mean you'll spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a trip to some foreign country but you won't share it with your neighbor when it costs you nothing but a walk to the next yard?" 

American Christianity wants to be entertained. It likes to "dabble". And dabbling in missions gives the aura of genuineness. And it's safe because, after all, you have no real investment in what you are doing. Generally you go, stick your toes in the water and then come home. There are no real consequences. "Play time over!"

And I've never seen anyone dabble on a missions trip to China involving the underground church...or to Korea where you can be killed for possessing a page of the scriptures...or the Sudan where Christians pay for their faith by being nailed to crosses.

And no, I've never gone overseas. I'd like to. 

But more than that, I'd like to be more the type of Christian who serves Christ in the mission field I live in. Right Here. Where I cannot hide behind anonymity.

How can we say we believe in the great commission when we won't even talk to the lost in our own town about the thing they need most? The thing they need most has nothing to do with "felt needs" but rather being saved from the eternal wrath of a holy God Who cannot look upon sin!

But so many of us would rather salve our consciences by sending clothes overseas (and I am not putting down sending clothing and food to the needy overseas) than help our spiritually dead and naked relatives and friends understand how to be clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ that comes through repentance from sin and faith in Christ!

We think of the book of James where he says real faith is shown when you give what you have to someone that is in need. Clothing. Food. Basic necessities. You say "I do that!". Great! That's fine!

But the lost have a need that so many of us are ignoring...the food of the Gospel...which we have, don't we? Or the clothing of the Righteousness of Jesus Christ? Or do we not have that to share?

James would say that if we won't give what we can to those who need it, it is a sign that our faith is dead. And I'd challenge anyone reading this to show me wrong in saying that if the physical is important, how much more the spiritual? For a man can die clothed and go straight to hell and a naked man may die and wake up in heaven!

Which is more important to you? The physical? You say you know Christ? If you don't see the spiritual as much more important, I question your claim and don't even try to tell me I shouldn't.

You say "but you don't understand, you have to make them feel better before you can attract them to Christ" and I say that a person must feel *worse* before coming to Christ. As a matter of fact, you must come to deny yourself (which means a refusal to associate with what you are and have been) before you can be converted! "If anyone would be my disciple, he must deny himself, pick up his cross and follow me" (Matthew 16:24)

That's not a call to a "higher level of Christian living" ala Ryrie and others but a call to salvation. Period. 

And what doctor would you have the slightest respect for who worried about setting the broken arm of a child screaming in agony while that child bled to death from a severed jugular? I would hope you'd be horrified by such a doctor. "But I must make him feel better first!". No. The child will perish. And the doctor would be guilty of malpractice.

People, we have to quit "playing missionary". If we are really converted, we are ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20). That means that where ever we go, we represent Christ. We never "punch out" if we really know Him. 

So you wanna go to a mission field? Great! Why not start with the one that begins at the other side of your front door? Or would James challenge the validity of your profession of faith? 

I remember one pastor saying "You're being awfully black and white. That's not how things are!" Oh Really? Let's see. The Bible is our sole authority, is it not? And does it not speak of light and dark, lost and found, condemned and saved? Just and unjust?

So, we're not in a game. We're not here to hobby around with religion. And Jesus warned about that. It's called being "lukewarm". James would say it's dead faith. 

The best translation I've heard of Hebrews 11:1 starts with "Faith is the substance..." of unseen things. In other words, faith is something you can *see* because it is something that shows itself. Just like James says, isn't it? 

You say you have faith? Great! Show you have a faith to share by sharing it!

If it's an issue of "I want to but don't know how", know that I used to be in the same position. But don't stay there. A great place to learn how to do Biblical Evangelism is www.wayofthemaster.com. Or, ask me! I'll be more than happy to help.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

*Just* Another Christmas? (The Short Version)

I've been reminded that there are newspapers out there that strictly enforce word count limits on a "letter to the editor". And my original article was way past that at around 650...but I didn't know that until I sent it. That is probably why it was put in the "Guest Opinion" section...longer articles there.

Some of you are interested in getting the article in your paper but are wondering how to cut the message down to 250 words or less. A friend at Facebook contacted me about this. Here's what I wrote for them and you can use it as well. It weighs in at 243 words, according to my word processor.

Also, remember you can find papers to submit it to at http://www.50states.com/news/ :
---------------------------------------------

Here we go! Another Christmas. Will it be just more empty boxes? Let's hope not, it shouldn't be. Because Christmas isn't just about “things” it's about a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ.

He came here to die for us. Born a child, lived a perfect life. Why? Because we have all violated God's Law, the Ten Commandments! We've all lied, we've probably all stolen something at one time or another...no matter how small...and we've all been guilty of hating someone, deserved or not. And Jesus said that hating someone reveals a murderer at heart!

Worse, the Scriptures tell us that no liar, thief or murderer will enter heaven, but be found guilty on the day of judgment and have to pay the ultimate penalty – hell.

Just ask God to forgive? What judge could just forgive a thief? That would make the judge unjust, wouldn't it? Sure it would!

But Jesus Christ is the Judge that removed His robe and came around to our side of the bench and died for us, enduring God's righteous judgment. He became our sin.

Our part is to "open the gift" God offers by repenting of our sin (turning from it) and trusting in what Jesus did for us so long ago. So, do you want to pay the penalty yourself? Repent, and trust in Jesus Christ alone as a skydiver would trust in a parachute. That's faith that saves. Take the “good” test at www.needgod.com .


And Now for the Halftime Show!

You may remember that some time back I was recording my weekly weight loss here in the left margin of my blog. Eventually, I moved it to my Facebook account where I'm fairly active.

Last July 10th, I was up to 285 pounds, which is 100 pounds over. It took a long time to get there and it's taken some time to lose some of it. And it'll be even longer before I'm down to 185, which is close to what I should be.

Anyway, it is my pleasure to announce to you that as of today I am down to 235, which represents the halfway mark of my loss goal. Here's what the process looks like in a line chart:



Well, as many of you are well aware, a football game is played on field 100 yards in length. And at halftime, you have the halftime show, right? Well, since I've reached the weight I have, I'm officially at "half time"...so logically we must have the halftime show. It'd only be right...!

So. Here you go. Enjoy!


video



"If The Foundations Be Destroyed"

How many times have you heard this scripture fragment quoted? "If the foundations be destroyed, what shall the righteous do?". It's from Psalm 11:3. And with almost no exception it is quoted by someone who is referring to the decline of America. I've heard Dobson use it countless times. And the result is "handwringing". You know. That anxiety about "Oh no...it's all caving in...we're gonna lose our freedoms..we better fight!".

Well, I for one am getting nauseated by hearing this fragment of Scripture abused in such a manner. Not sure how it started or who "ground zero" is as far as who started it but I'm plain nauseated by it.

This verse fragment is one I expected to read somewhere in this article that I received from CWN.

The above link is about how we are only two states away from having a constitutional convention and if that happens, we will have a major (liberal) workover of the constitution.

Now while I do love this country and the freedoms we have, I also have to remember something even more important: I am a Christian first and foremost. As such, my first responsibility is to maintain my walk with the Lord which can be broken down into personal holiness and also ministry to my wife before all other things. If I fail in one of those two areas, nothing else matters.

My second responsibility is making disciples. This has to be second because if my personal walk (personal holiness and ministry to wife/family) is not right then I have no right to talk to anyone about sin issues, do I?

Remember, we are Christians...first and foremost! I've often put it this way: I am a Christian who just happens to live in a country named the United States of America. I'm not some kind of hybrid...an "Amero-Christian". I'm a Christian. My citizenship is in Heaven. I'm here as an ambassador. I'm a missionary on this Earth...no matter where I am. I'm not here to focus on what is going on around me and get all a-quiver about the changing political climate.

Now, of course, the analogy does fail a bit because I do have voting rights, etc. At least to this point. Things may change. But I think my point is obvious. I'm not here to get all wrapped up in "reforming" the country from the outside. I'm here to represent the Gospel and make disciples. And if you are a Christian, you are too.

So, while I do thank the Lord for the freedoms we enjoy at this time, I do not get wrapped up in having someone "protect my rights as a Christian", especially when it involves things that I have been told to do by the Lord through His Word regardless of what is viewed as a "right" by the surrounding society. And should there be a conflict between the two, the score shall be (rightly) Heavenly Citizenship 1, American Citizenship 0. Period. End of debate.

And let me clarify. I have no problem with someone who differs with me on the degree of political involvement. But I do have to disagree (rather strongly) with those who so often and freely abuse Psalm 11:3.

So, what gives with this phrase we hear so much about the foundations being destroyed? Is it true that the Psalmist could be telling us (ala Dobson) "OOOOhh NO! Things are falling apart! We're in BIG TROUBLE! We better do something fast!"

No. Not at all. And such an implication, so often heard, is a twisting of the Scripture. And if I hear it again, I will vomit.

Let's take a look at the passage, shall we?

1 In the LORD I take refuge.
How then can you say to me:
"Flee like a bird to your mountain.

2 For look, the wicked bend their bows;
they set their arrows against the strings
to shoot from the shadows
at the upright in heart.

3 When the foundations are being destroyed,
what can the righteous do?"

4 The LORD is in his holy temple;
the LORD is on his heavenly throne.
He observes the sons of men;
his eyes examine them.

5 The LORD examines the righteous,
but the wicked and those who love violence
his soul hates.

6 On the wicked he will rain
fiery coals and burning sulfur;
a scorching wind will be their lot.

7 For the LORD is righteous,
he loves justice;
upright men will see his face.

Now, to be fair, let's ignore the quotation marks at the beginning of this passage because they are not inspired. It is something added by the translators. Agree?

The Psalmist starts out by making a simple statement:

"The Lord is my refuge." Simple enough? No problems so far. He then asks a question: "How then can you say to me..." which indicates a question, no?

The question is this: "Because I trust in the Lord, why do you say to me..."You better run! Head for the hills! The Baddies are coming for you good guys! Whatcha gonna do about it?"

See? Not hard to understand is it?

Let's take a look at this passage again, but leaving out the question the Psalmist asks:

1 In the LORD I take refuge.
...(Why? How?)...
4 The LORD is in his holy temple;
the LORD is on his heavenly throne.
He observes the sons of men;
his eyes examine them.

5 The LORD examines the righteous,
but the wicked and those who love violence
his soul hates.

6 On the wicked he will rain
fiery coals and burning sulfur;
a scorching wind will be their lot.

7 For the LORD is righteous,
he loves justice;
upright men will see his face.

In other words, he is saying "Look. My refuge is in the Lord. No matter what, God is still on His throne. He controls the things that come our way. He is sovereign. He not only is sovereign, there is nothing that He is not aware of. He sees everything. Nothing escapes his view. He observes the righteous and the wicked. The wicked willl be dealt with and those who are counted by God as righteous will see Him."

So, buddy...what is this "It's all falling apart" stuff? It's temporal. It is therefore not all that important.

Nothing is out of God's control. And nothing is happening that He is not permitting. So, can we stop the panic? The scripture twisting...seemingly in the name of inciting political activism? That does not honor God. It dishonors him...first by showing our trust is not in our True Refuge but in our own political savvy. But also by misrepresenting what God has indeed said!

Want to vote? Great! Vote! I vote too! Want to call your congressmen and women about something? Fine! I've done it too...once in a while. But when it becomes a "trusting in chariots and horses" rather than trusting "...in he Name of the Lord our God" (Psalm 20:7) then it becomes sin. Period. The Lord is to be our fortress, not laws that we manipulate through those who do not even know the Lord.

Bretheren, for so long we have been a blessed country (in spite of ourselves). And I do believe we are going to lose that. But I'm hard pressed to see anywhere that we are told to preserve our own "rights". And so often I have gotten calls from places like the American Center for Law and Justice. Incessant calls asking for money so that they can "Protect my right to pray".

The last time I received such a call and heard that line, I told the person my thoughts on this...as I've already delineated here. "I don't have a 'right' to pray...I have the duty and privilege to pray which was given to me by the Lord Himself! No one can change that regardless!" Her response? Silence. Then an answer that indicated to me that a light went on. No, I'm not going to fork over tons of money so someone can "protect my rights as a Christian". Why? On what basis? With all those in need around us, shall we throw our money away selfishly in the name of self-preservation?

Judgement day: "And Tim, let's examine how you used the money that I trusted you with while you were on Earth".

"Well, I, err, thought it might be best...ummm...to protect myself...even though...uhmmm, You told me that 'no disciple is above his master...'"

End of defense. A failed one. Wood. Hay. Stubble.

Why are so many who name the Name of Jesus Christ seemingly so involved in self-preservation? And are we not likely working against the Lord Who is bringing about a purifying persecution? Shall we say "No Lord"? Those two words are mutually exclusive!

Our country is undoubtedly entering into a time of severe judgment from a Holy God. And He is doing it, in part, to bring men and women to despair in temporal things and themselves and bring them to repentance! Are we going to fight against that?

And who are we fooling? Ourselves? This country in which we live has not been a representative republic for some time. Remember the bailouts? They were passed *in spite of* the fact that the vast majority of those our "representatives", well, represent! What does that tell you about our political "horses and chariots"?

Nope, I'm not against voting. I'm not against speaking out on some issues. But don't expect me to find solace in political "solutions" through this lost culture. My refuge is in the Lord, especially when "the foundations be destroyed".

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

How To Witness to a Homosexual

video

What Would Be Justice?

This just came out in our local paper regarding our state governor.

"Federal authorities arrested Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich Tuesday on charges that he brazenly conspired to sell or trade the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama to the highest bidder.

Blagojevich also was charged with illegally threatening to withhold state assistance to Tribune Co., the owner of the Chicago Tribune, in the sale of Wrigley Field, according to a federal criminal complaint. In return for state assistance, Blagojevich allegedly wanted members of the paper's editorial board who had been critical of him fired."

Question: If he is found guilty, would it do him any good to just say "Judge, you're a good judge...and I bet you love mercy...So, please forgive me, would you? I'm sorry! I've learned my lesson!"

I bet you're saying "No good judge would do that! It would be as criminal as what the Governor did!" And you know what? You'd be right! Justice must be served, or the law becomes a mockery!

Yet one day, you will stand before the Judge of Heaven and Earth. Think you'll do ok? On what basis? Think you're a good person? Let's see! 

Have you ever told a lie? Doesn't matter how small...or long ago. What would that make you? What would you call *me* if I told you a lie? A Liar, right? Ok, have you ever stolen anything...no matter how small. What would that make you? A thief! Ever hated someone? Jesus said that this is the same, before God, as murder! Ever looked with lust at another person? Jesus calls that adultery of the heart! Let your conscience speak to you! Wouldn't that make you a lying, thieving adulterous murderer at heart? And aren't we all? Yet, the "everyone is doing it" excuse is no more effective than the "just forgive me" ploy before a "good" judge!

So, do you think you'll go to heaven or hell? God says that no liars, thieves, adulterers or murderers shall enter Heaven (among others). That leaves only one option. Hell. 

What can you do? Well, while God is Just and must demand payment be made for sin, He also provided a substitute for your punishment; His Own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ! Jesus came to Earth, God in human flesh, born of a virgin and lived the sinless life that you nor I can live. But then he suffered at the very hands of God the Father, willingly, so that those who repent (turn from their sin) and trust in what He did may be justified in God's sight. 

It has been rightly said that you are only guaranteed the breath you have in your lungs at this very moment. God does not owe you another. Turn from your sin and put your trust in the Savior!


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Praising God for a Wonderful Witnessing Opportunity!

It's been such a wonderful day...even though I think I'm catching the flu...!

My wife and I studied God's Word together today and had a wonderful breakfast together. Then, we went out to shop for a few things and I even was able to pass out a few "Christmas Quiz" tracts!

But the big news is that the local paper was used of God to print a tract for me...in the form of an "opinion piece"...which will be distributed to about 40,000 readers!


I posted about this a while back.
And I've been waiting! And though this wasn't the first piece that I sent to them which contained the Gospel (and they printed) this was purely evangelistic in content. It had no other purpose than to bring up spiritual things, present the law, hopefully show the readers that they (like me) are sinners in need of a Savior and present the good news of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!

I was a bit concerned on two fronts. First, that they may not print the article or, secondly, that they may edit it to shorten it. I had, after all, sent it as a "letter to the editor". But they even "promoted it" by turning it into a "guest opinion piece"!

It's my opinion also that the Lord used them to attract more attention to the "tract". The title I had submitted for this piece was "*Just* Another Christmas?"...and they retitled it "Wear Jesus Like a Parachute"...which at first didn't appeal to me. But then I thought...well, they are, after all, getting to my main point, aren't they? And, of course, that title would appear to be more of an eye catcher! And I'll accept that!

So thanks to you all who have been praying for this to pass. It isn't often that one gets the ability to share the gospel with so many with so little effort and no cost.

Praying that hearts will be convicted and souls won...!

Blessings,

Tim

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Should Fallen Pastors Be Restored?

It was September of 2007 that a local pastor was discovered having an affair with a member of his church. This was no small thing, of course, but it was discovered that this had been going on for an entire decade! 

While the pastor was removed from the the pulpit at that church, he has since taken over as pastor at a different church. And it took less than a year for him to do so!

This, of course, raises the question which is stated as the title of this post. Consider the following from John MacArthur. The source can be found here.



John MacArthur

It has always saddened me over the years as I've watched church leaders bring a reproach on the church of Jesus Christ. What's shocking to me is how frequently Christian leaders sin grossly, then step back into leadership almost as soon as the publicity dies away.

Some time ago I received a CD that disturbed me greatly. It was a recording of the recommissioning service of a pastor who had made national news by confessing to an adulterous affair. After little more than a year of "counseling and rehabilitation," this man was returning to public ministry with his church's blessing.

That is happening everywhere. Restoration teams--equipped with manuals to instruct the church on how to reinstate their fallen pastor--wait like tow-truck drivers on the side of the highway, anticipating the next leadership "accident". Our church has received inquiries wondering if we have written guidelines or a workbook to help restore fallen pastors to leadership. Many no doubt expect that a church the size of ours would have a systematic rehabilitation program for sinning leaders.

Gross sin among Christian leaders is a signal that something is seriously wrong with the church. But an even greater problem is the lowering of standards to accommodate a leader's sin. That the church is so eager to bring these men back into leadership is a symptom of rottenness at the core.

Some have claimed that a leader's failure makes him more effective in shepherding fallen people. That is ludicrous. Should we drag the bottom of sin's cesspool for the most heinous sinners to lead the church? Are they better able to understand the sinner? Certainly not! Our pattern for ministry is the sinless Son of God. The church is to be like Him and her leaders are to be our models of Christlikeness.

We must recognize that leadership in the church cannot be regarded lightly. The foremost requirement of a church leader is that he be above reproach (1 Timothy 3:2, 10; Titus 1:7). That is a difficult prerequisite, and not everyone can meet it.

There are some sins that irreparably shatter a man's reputation and disqualify him from a ministry of leadership forever. Even Paul, man of God that he was, said he feared such a possibility. In 1 Corinthians 9:27 he says, "I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified."

When referring to his body, Paul obviously had sexual immorality in view. In 1 Corinthians 6:18 he describes it as a sin against one's own body--sexual sin is in its own category. Certainly it disqualifies a man from church leadership since he permanently forfeits a blameless reputation as a one-woman man (Proverbs 6:33; 1 Timothy 3:2).

Where did we get the idea that a year's leave of absence and some counseling can restore integrity to someone who has squandered his reputation and destroyed people's trust? Certainly not from the Bible. Trust forfeited is not so easily regained. Once purity is sacrificed, the ability to lead by example is lost forever. As my friend Chuck Swindoll once commented when referring to this issue--it takes only one pin to burst a balloon.

What about forgiveness? Shouldn't we be eager to restore our fallen brethren? To fellowship, yes. But not to leadership. It is not an act of love to return a disqualified man to public ministry; it is an act of disobedience.

By all means we should be forgiving. But we cannot erase the consequences of sin. I am not advocating that we "shoot our wounded." I'm simply saying that we shouldn't rush them back to the front lines, and we should not put them in charge of other soldiers. The church should do everything possible to minister to those who have sinned and repented. But that does not include restoring the mantle of leadership to a man who has disqualified himself and forfeited the right to lead. Doing so is unbiblical and lowers the standard God has set.

So why is the contemporary church so eager to be tolerant? I'm certain a major reason is the sin and unbelief that pervade the church. If casual Christians can lower the expectations on their leadership, they will be much more comfortable with their own sin. With lower moral standards, the church becomes more tolerant of sin and less tolerant of holiness. The "sinner-friendly" church is intolerable to God--that is a frightening condition.

Conservative Christians have for most of the previous century focused on the battle for doctrinal purity. And that is good. But we are losing the battle for moral purity. Some of the worst defeats have occurred among our more visible leaders. The church cannot lower the standard to accommodate them. We should hold it higher so we can regain purity. If we lose here, we have utterly failed, no matter how orthodox our confession of faith. We can't win if we compromise the biblical standard of moral purity.

What should you do in the current crisis? Pray for your church's leaders. Keep them accountable. Encourage them. Let them know you are following their godly example. Understand that they are not perfect, but continue nonetheless to call them to the highest level of godliness and purity. The church must have leaders who are genuinely above reproach. Anything less is an abomination.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

*Just* Another Christmas?

Our local paper has a circulation of about 40,000 according to their numbers last year. I've written and submitted the following to our paper (Galesburg Register Mail) as a Letter to the editor. They have published such articles from me in the past...so I figured, why not now too?

Please. Please. Please! Feel very free to copy and paste the following as a letter to the editor of your own local paper. In doing so, you will be publishing the Gospel to potential thousands of readers...for FREE!

****NOTE**** If you want the tract version I have created, click here!

Here is my submission...:
--------------------------------

"Just" Another Christmas?

Here we go again. Another Christmas. All the stores have their lights and trees on display. All the toys are on the shelves and the kids are lining up. This is the time of year when our commercialism comes to full bloom and even the most atheistic of businessmen and women cash in on a holiday that has its roots in something that happened in a manger nearly 2000 years ago, even as some of them fight against public expression of it in the courts.

But is that all it is? Tinsel? Lights? Spending money on Uncle Ed and hoping you get the same value in presents back so at least you break even?

Thankfully, no. Not at all. That is the humanistic, secular, commercial Christmas. And in the end, it is as empty as the boxes and paper that will be left on the floor after it's all over.

So, am I another Christian who is going to just say “Jesus is the reason for the season”? No. That is just triteness and I won't insult you with that. Rather, let me give you why it was necessary for Jesus to come here in the first place.

We have all broken God's Law, the ten commandments. We've all told lies, no matter how small and how long ago. Most of us have stolen something and, regardless of how small it was, that still makes us lying thieves! And that is only two of the ten commandments, yet God says in His Word that if we break even one commandment, we are as guilty as one who has broken them all! How many of us have been guilty of lust (which God calls adultery of the heart)? We've all held hate in our hearts against someone for whatever reason and God says that is the same as murder. And who hasn't blasphemed God by taking His holy name in vain? Need I go on? It's obvious – we all are guilty before God of breaking His law!

God is the holy, righteous and just Judge that must punish sin. The bad news is that merely asking for forgiveness isn't going to help any more than asking a local judge to just forgive you if you were guilty of robbing a bank. There is a penalty that must be paid and any judge that simply forgives a thief would rightly be considered unjust and rightly thrown from the bench. The judge would only be right in sending that thief to prison for a very long time. And in the case of the sinner, the destination is hell.

But God! -- Those are good words aren't they! But God sent Jesus Christ, His one and only Son, to come here and dwell among us. The Judge of the universe took on human flesh. He took off his robe. He came to us a child. The Bible says he “pitched his tent among us”. He lived the sinless life that you and I could never live. He was nailed to a cross and suffered the wrath and indignity of human abuse and murder at the very human hands He created. And He died. But even worse, he suffered the infinite wrath of his own Father because he became our sin. He cried “Why have You forsaken Me” because God the Father, for the first time in eternity, could not look upon Him because he became our sin. Yet, three days later, he rose from the dead showing that He had conquered death and proved that his sacrifice for us was acceptable to the Father.

Such is the love of God. It's how He showed His love.

In turn God calls all of us to turn from our sin (repent) and put our faith in what Jesus Christ did on that cross so long ago. You must “put on” the Lord Jesus Christ as a man would put on a parachute before jumping from a plane. Because, whether you want to or not, you will one day make the jump into eternity. 10 out of 10 people die, you know. Think you're a good person? Visit www.needgod.com.