The CHRISTmas Christian

or, The failure of CHRISTmas.

It’s Christmastime…that time of year! Or to me, a time to witness people trample over Christ to cheap adornments, cheap gifts and perceived traditions that keep Christ OUT of Christmas. Everyone loves a holiday, loves to say ‘Christmas’ but have no intentions of including Christ.

Christmas is a time when Christians celebrate the birth of the Savior; whether it was His actual birthday is not important…we don’t mind having Presidents Day or Martin Luther King Day off from work when that day does not reflect their actual birthdays.

In Redmond and Seattle, Washington, “It’s OK to say Merry Christmas” signs were called ‘not sensitive‘ and ‘alienates other religions‘. I’m pretty darned sure that ‘other religions‘ don’t have anything to do with Christmas anyway. But as usual, people want the holiday, but not Christ.

Without Christ, there would be no Christmas. I can’t make that any simpler. If you don’t want Christ in Christmas, then go to work on December 25th…..and a ‘Happy Holidays’ to ya.

In true Christianity, the Bible teaches us to discern and teach against false doctrine. We are to be a ‘watchman on the wall‘, not passive. Passivity causes slumber, slumber causes CULT. Then, if you are a Christian and don’t care about what CHRISTmas is, then  you are in slumber.

There is no middle road, no gray area…either Christmas is about Jesus Christ or it’s about YOU.

The Prayer of the Sojourning Christian.

I cried, but no one heard.
I was hurt, but no one helped.
I fought alone to no avail,
I waited, but no one came.

I saw, but couldn’t remember.
I heard, but couldn’t discern.
I held out my hand, but it came back empty.
My heart hurt, and no one comforted me.

How can I love when I receive none,
Where is the delight in life?
Is it in the mirror looking back at me
Or is it in the eyes of another?

Lord! Come closer, be near me
Because my fight is harder than ever.
You are my only Joy, my Salvation
From a life of tears and remorse.

I have lost so much and gained little.
This world has spewed me out
But it won’t let me go.
Let me go, world…I am not yours.

But I look up and see my Abundance
In a face I have not yet met.
His beauty is infinite, His love is unmatched.
Just a little while longer, He says, You are not done.

I hold my hands up to Him in Praise
and seek His warmth with sweet tears.
I am yours, I say, I am yours!
Touch me today, Lord…Touch me today!

I am a stranger, a sojourner in this world.
My woes are His, but the consequences are mine.
I look to Him, I Praise His name!
Until I cross that River, I will rest in Him!

©revkatherinemarple

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” [Matthew 11:28]

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The Christian Sojourner

We, all Christians, are all sojourners here. This world is not our home; it is as temporary as our human flesh is. But we still have to live here and fellowship here until that time when we can finally go Home.

God made a way for the Christian Sojourner:

If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. Take no usury or interest from him; but fear your God, that your brother may live with you. You shall not lend him your money for usury, nor lend him your food at a profit. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.” Leviticus 25:35-38

As a sojourner while still on this Earth, we seek the Father continually. We see Him through the eyes of a child, the infirm, the meek, the poor…and through a godly stranger. God is everywhere, He is in everything, even in the darkest of times:

Hear my prayer, O Lord,
And give ear to my cry;
Do not be silent at my tears;
For I am a stranger with You,
A sojourner, as all my fathers were.” Psalm 39:12

The Christian Sojourner sometimes is cast out from whom he trusted to fend for himself outside of the ‘city gate‘. For our Faith we are chastised and criticized and censured. The Christian Sojourner continues in the Faith, not luck! We are a wayfaring stranger, a rank stranger with chaotic worldly lusts all around. But we stand, we stand FAST, we stand in HIM, no matter the cost, and sometimes that cost is our own home, family and friends:

“If we had forgotten the name of our God,
Or stretched out our hands to a foreign god,
Would not God search this out?
For He knows the secrets of the heart.
Yet for Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Psalm 44:20-22. 

Who will help the Sojourner? Even Job said, “But no sojourner had to lodge in the street, for I have opened my doors to the traveler.” Job’s door was open, are ours? Until it’s time to go over that River, we are wayfaring, sojourning….travelling through and hopefully the love of a neighbor will let us lay our head down for a little while. Jesus said: “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Yes, even Jesus.

Sometimes the Christian Sojourner has to move on relying on the mercy and love of other Christians. But with every step the River gets closer and the blessings are sure – this journey is shorter than you think.

Mary Believed.

Unimaginable. To think that a young girl, barely marriageable, was chosen to be the vessel God would use for the birth our Savior, Jesus Christ. And even more unimaginable is her Faith in whom she heard this Good News!

Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” Luke 1:45

The New Testament reflects what the Prophet Isaiah said regarding the birth of The Redeemer:

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet [Is 7:14], saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Matthew 1:22-23

Why was Mary so special to God for Him to choose her? It has to be assumed that Mary’s heart to some degree, while yet a sinner by nature through the fall of Adam, had a level of receptive purity toward God. This would fulfill the sovereign Plan of God.

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While Mary’s lineage went back to King David, the Bible doesn’t say who her parents were. However, the Scriptures do tell us her husband’s lineage [Luke 3:23, Matthew 1:16], both Mary and Joseph being descendants of David [Romans 1:3]. They seemed ‘common’, but they were chosen.

Though Mary was chosen by God, she still needed to answer the Call. Mary believed, through Faith alone, that her sacrifice would change the world.

Unimaginable…but Mary believed.

TESTIMONY: Choosing LIFE & Faith, no matter what.

For there to be a testimony, there has to be a test. And as Christians, we are tested all the time. In a time when a woman finds herself pregnant at the very worst time, God tells us it’s never bad time to be the life giver He made women to be. Since the foundation of the WORLD we have been known by God, each with a divine purpose only He can give.

FAITH.

Being on the sidewalk, we hear so many ‘reasons’ why they can’t have their baby. But there are no reasons…not ONE…good enough to kill an innocent unborn child entrusted to the parents by God.

What a blessing to read this incredible testimony given by God’s woman, a woman who follows Him no matter what. After all, lemonade tastes much better than sour, bitter lemons.

Thank you God’s woman, for sharing this incredible testimony, and thank you for choosing LIFE: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,” [Gal 6:2]

Written in her own hand, enjoy this beautiful testimony:

One year ago today at this time I was saying hello for the first time to my 2nd little bundle of joy, Zachary! I knew as soon as I found out he was a boy that the Lord put the name Zachary on my heart for him. I knew the meaning of the name at the time but I didn’t know why in particular the Lord wanted me to name him it until after he was born. You see I’m not going to go into details but a few months before Zach’s birth I started going through one of the worst times of my life and it was something completely out of my control. There was nothing I could do to avoid or help the situation but I had to just deal with it and do it 7 months pregnant at that! The beauty of being a child of God though is that I didn’t have to deal with it on my own but as always my Heavenly Father was right there by my side taking care of me in any way He could. If I only had the time to tell you all how many ways God has showed me how much He loves me and has had my back through this thing! One of the biggest ways was by Him giving me Zach. Before his birth I honestly was a little worried about how I was going to take care of a newborn and a 3 year old in my emotional state but after he was born and I spent a little time with him I understood immediately why the Lord gave me the name Zachary for him. Zachary means “God remembered” so you see in a time of deep despair God remembered me and gave me a literal bundle of joy! He really is just the happiest most laid back baby ever and has been since his birth. You can pretty much guarantee a laugh out of him whenever you see him. Of course my 3 year old already made me smile and laugh everyday no matter what but the Lord gave me another little blessing to make me smile and laugh even more despite what I was going through. Words can’t even describe the love I have for my 2 little boys and the joy that they bring to my life! [Anonymous]

The Bible says, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Jesus

The Minimalist.

I have to admit, I love our minimalist life. I feel free of the world and it’s traps. I can’t stand the frivolity of the way some Christians live; we are at war with the devil himself and we clamor for more clutter.

My husband and I, through the leading of the Holy Spirit, have shorn down our life and lifestyle to accommodate our Christian walk. Now some would say that it’s a bit extreme, mostly because way too many Christians still want their one foot in the world. I mean, is it really necessary to have that $500 Coach purse? Did you have to get leather seats in the new car? Just how necessary is the mid-life-crisis Harley? How does anyone NEED a 3000 sqft home unless you’re a Duggar?

This world in which we live allows us – wants us – to go into a debt abyss to have things that others have…not just Christians, ESPECIALLY Christians. We are much more malleable to the government if we have a lot of debt. A lot of believers think that God will provide for their ‘stuff’ – and He will provide….to our NEEDS. We need food, we need clothing, we need shelter. We do not need ‘stuff’.

While having coffee with my husband, we discussed whether Christians should live a lavish lifestyle, whether in or out of debt. My first thought was if this lavishness glorifies God – I don’t think it can. We are to be a light to the world, not a lighting concept: “v14 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. v15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. v16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven,” Matthew 5:14-16.

There is a great peace that comes with having less. We are unencumbered with ‘things’ that have no room in a Christian’s life. By choice we have one vehicle; by choice we do not have cable television. By choice we have a home that is reasonable rather than getting one big enough to store more stuff AND still rent a storage unit to store the rest of it. By choice we choose to have less so we can have more with Christ.

And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Matthew 8:18-20

Give much? While it is true that God does supply the needs of His people, this is a specific promise that those who are faithful and devoted in their giving to Christ will never suffer lack. God gives us a lot of latitude to do His Will as well as just enough to mess it up. We are OBLIGATED to be the good steward that God wants us to be. He can put money in your bucket OR put a hole in the bottom of it.

And to summarize, 2 Corinthians 9:8 says, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work…”

The Valley Christian

Are you a valley Christian or a mountain Christian? Is God only God when it’s all good? That’s too bad; you’ll never know the fullness of God.

Psalm 23:4-5 says: “v4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of deathI will fear no evil; for You are with me; your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. v5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.”

I do believe that some of us spend more time in the valley than others because our ‘free will’ is conditioning us to continue to fail rather than learn and get the victory. God wants us to learn from our valley experiences. God does not hate us, He wants us to be victorious…but we keep getting in our own way and blame Him for our own rebellion.

“I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people,
Who walk in a way that is not good,
According to their own thoughts.” Isaiah 65:2

The mountain Christian definitely believes in God only when life is going their way, which isn’t very often. Sin has a way of sitting us down a spell. The mountain Christian HATES God in the valley; they truly think that being a Christian gives them a pass. The truth is Christians are tested more after salvation than before. Is that from God? Maybe. Remember, God EITHER causes or allows bad things to happen for His Glory, not ours. He gives us every minute of every day to repent and come back to Him, but most won’t. Being so high-minded is going to get ya a nose bleed, not victory.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

God goes before us, He is there waiting for us, He will protect us.

 “And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” Deut 31:8

The valley isn’t so bad, it’s where God is. Trust God to bring you out of the valley, His promises are sure. Pray for His guidance, not your own.

“v22 It is of the Lord‘s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. v23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

30 DAY PARENTING PRAYER CHALLENGE: Day 23

Has the earth somehow flipped on its axis? Society has turned a 180 with the way we deal with our family. My husband and I were talking about our grandmothers and how we revered them…respected them because we should. I mean, why wouldn’t we? Isn’t that NORMAL? I certainly thought so. Our adult kids believed their grandmas walked on water! But here we are, our adult kids think we are of no real use and don’t bother teaching their children to respect their grandparents: US.

These kids make us feel like we have to do some real recon to see our grandkids or at least see a photo now and then. And since the advent of social media and smart phones, this should NOT be a problem or an inconvenience….but it is.

This ain’t rocket science, this is minute-to-minute real life that we are missing out on because some of our adult kids think their kids don’t need us. We know what the problem is, and what the one common denominator is: GOD.

THIS is what, or really WHO, offends some of our kids…GOD. I can’t emphasize enough how much Jesus has brought us through EVERYTHING! We give him Glory and Honor and Praise no matter what. This is the same God that gave them life and breath, the same God that loves them beyond measure, THE VERY SAME GOD that saved my life…and God is the problem? How can anyone reconcile that God is the problem when it is God that SAVES and HEALS?

v6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
v
7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.
v8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
v
9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;
v
10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. [Colossians 2:6-10]

Being a Child of God in the world today is tough enough but when our own families and kids come against us, it’s HARD. But we cannot give up the Faith or we have NOTHING. What our kids don’t understand yet is that WITH God we are better parents and grandparents.

Pray that God will send a mentor, a spiritual ‘speedbump’ to our adult kids. Through prayer and fasting we can combat this and be better Christians for it. Remember, this is a TEST. And with every test comes a testimony.

30 DAY PARENTING PRAYER CHALLENGE: Day 21

I have a friend that has absolutely NO idea where her adult son is. Because she is a Christian, he walked out on their mother/son relationship both figuratively and literally. I understand where she’s at, mine have done the same. They say it’s because they don’t believe in Jesus but the truth is that they are convicted deep in their spirit for what they do and consequently blame us for being ‘holy rollers’ that pushed them out. That’s a real nice explanation, too bad it’s an outright lie. If ANYONE is a Christ follower, they purport the love of Christ, not shake their fist in His name.

Whether or not that actually happens is not the point; I know that is not the case here. When I came to the Lord, I wished EVERYONE Jesus! I STILL grieve thinking of the souls, especially my children, that may not make it because they live for the world. My heart and soul is sick, however my faith is unwavering.

As parents and Christians, we need to remember that the enemy places our own children against us and Jesus so that we would be forced to make a decision: Jesus or them. Just keep in mind that your children cannot get you into Heaven.

The prodigal son? That parable should have been called the prodigal father…but in my case, the prodigal mother. While the adult child goes and lives like he wants despite how he was raised with his fist raised to God, we wait. And sometimes a VERY LONG TIME.

v11 Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. v12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. v13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.” Luke 15:11-13

So many young adults run the system thinking they have everything in control. The truth is that the system has them; they spend what they don’t have in hopes to have it one day. And a lot of times they use their parent’s money to float their disobedience. As a parent with a bank account, I had to finally say no. I cannot fund a rotten lifestyle that does not glorify God.

v17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! v18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you’.” Luke 15:17-18

I don’t know that I need an apology, what I need is to forgive and look forward rather than looking at a past that we cannot change. All that I do ask is they be obedient to God and do what He says. I cannot imagine how they would react when they understand the economy of God and that He loves them. Sometimes provision comes in obedience.

“And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” Luke 15:20

I think we forget to have compassion for our adult kids rather than staying mad at a situation we couldn’t change. Short of duct tape and zip ties, I cannot force our adult kids to do anything. When they are on ‘self destruct’ all we can do is show our compassion and love.

v23And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; v24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.” Luke 15:23-24

And it should be a celebration! Standing in the doorway looking like judge and jury is not the love of God. Don’t get me wrong – I am human – but as I get older I see how short time really is. Life is happening right now and death will eventually come. I just want them prepared to leave this earth and go to a place prepared for us, “v2 I go to prepare a place for you. v3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also”, [John 14:2-3].

My prayer today is all adult children understand that being parents did not end when they left. Nothing can shake the love of a parent or the love of God. Our children are always ours, and we are His.

I don’t know about you but I’m still waiting…and it’s okay. I do what Christ would do: Wait with a loving and forgiving heart.

30 DAY PARENTING PRAYER CHALLENGE: Day 20

First, Happy Resurrection Day! And if you woke up this morning, PRAISE GOD! If every day we took joy in just being able to open our eyes another day, imagine how much happier we would be!

Three of our adult kids are living with friends or a parent, they don’t have a home of their own. And they have children, too. Every day they do their best to do more, to have their own piece of earth, to make their own home with their kids. Everyone wants the ‘American Dream’ but I wish they wanted what Jesus Christ provided – an Eternal home rather than a dream. We celebrate the sacrifice Christ made for us. We don’t need a picket fence for that.

I know how my boys feel; they want to be real men that have their own homes. Jesus said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head“, [Matthew 8:20]. JESUS HAD NOWHERE TO LAY HIS HEAD. Even His tomb was borrowed:

“v57 Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. v58 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. v59 When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, v60 and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed.” Matthew 27:57-60

There is so much hopelessness in the world; everyone picking away at life. Christ died a horrible death for all of us, you would think that when they wake up every morning they would rejoice knowing the debt was paid! But they despair. All. The. Time.

Jesus said, It is finished!” And it is. Our debt is paid. All we have to do is believe.

Pray that our adult kids will appreciate what has been provided and that they will see the light of Salvation rather than darkness. And take time to thank God for the gift of Jesus!