Tag Archives: Christmas

The Christ, The Prince of Peace

Christ did not come to bring peace but to bring a sword
Christ did not come to bring peace but to bring a sword

“Glory in the highest” the angels sang, “and on earth peace, goodwill to men.”

From this first joyful proclamation of Jesus’ birth to this day, Jesus’ name has been used by advocates for peace of all kinds regardless of those advocates belief in and surrender to Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Pastor Todd preached Sunday on the hard thought that Christ did not come to bring the peace we men expected. In Matthew 10 Jesus proclaims something seemingly directly contrary to the angel’s words:

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Isn’t the Messiah supposed to bring peace? After all, the angels could not be lying, could they? I’m so confused!

Elsewhere Jesus seems to confirm the angels and contradict Himself:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)

The Jews Jesus was preaching to in Matthew 10 were expecting a Messiah who would wage one final war and end all conflict with Israel as the masters of the universe. They were expecting the Prince of Peace to beat the Romans into submission and enthrone their own county in the seat of eternal power. Forget Pax Romana, they wanted Pax Iudeah.

The Jews were correct, in once sense: the peace Christ brought would be achieved through final conflict.

In John 14 Jesus is speaking specifically to His disciples, and by extension, to those who believe in Him as their Savior and Lord. He reinforces the distinction between His peace and the peace the rest of the world claims by stating He will not give His peace the same way the world gives.

There are two different kinds and times of peace that Christ is bringing to mankind. The instant and constant kind enjoyed only by those who have fought Christ and lost and surrendered and now live in subjection to His will and in His protection. And the future, hoped-for peace which will only come about when all mankind ceases it’s striving with God, the vice-grip of sin is broken from every heart, and the deceiver and tormentor and death are cast, along with all their minions and followers, into the pit of eternal destruction in God’s wrath.

The peace Christ  brought at his birth was the instant and constant peace available to those who put their faith in Him. In that same birth He began the final process up to the final day with the final trumpet shall sound, ushering in that final, lasting, and universal peace.

Wishing and hoping for universal peace on this earth is a hopeless and pointless task. Sin is the dominant force in the majority of people’s hearts, and sin is selfish. Sinners will not even agree together, and even God had not sent His Son to bring even greater conflict, the sinners themselves would find conflict enough among themselves.

Christ’s presence in this world brings even greater reason for conflict. The coming of Christ brought not the peace we men hoped for but the seed to greater conflict due to the presence of truth and those who would not and will not accept it.

Christ brought truth and truth wars against the lies which hold so many captive. Those who remain captive to the lies of the world also war with vehemence against the truth and those who have surrendered to it. The conflict is mutual and inescapable.

Peace on this earth is reserved only to those who surrender to Him and live in allegiance to His will. Peace in eternity is only given to the same.

This is not an exclusive claim because the means of salvation is freely available to all. There is no person alive not permitted to surrender to Christ, and God makes clear throughout the bible His will that no one should perish. This is the goodwill to men, that God, who worked with man despite his sin, provided the way out of the penalty for that sin.

More Important Things: Christmas Greetings

A Holiday Tree?
A Holiday Tree?

It’s Christmas time, or the holidays are upon us, again. And predictably, Christians and traditionalists are duking it out with many in the broader culture regarding whether or not the correct greeting is “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”.

Technically, in common usage a holiday is any day free of regular work or school. Labor Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Thanksgiving are all holidays. So to use “Happy Holidays” only for Christmas and New Years could be said to apply an undeserved exclusivity to the greeting.

“Merry Christmas” does more accurately convey any season-specific good wishes with this particular season. Due to cultural norms, to say “Merry Christmas” is not necessarily to admit an obeisance to and acceptance of the Christ, the historic and real reason for the season.

But is it an issue big enough to build a stink over?

I would argue it is not.

In the same way as Christians we can see our culture building itself into the biggest frenzy every Christmas as a tacit recognition of the primacy the event of Christmas is to our world, we can see the use of the term “Holiday” as a tacit recognition of nature of the day as a Holy Day.

This is, admittedly, an “I’ll take what I can get” perspective. However, I would balance that with a question: Can we expect the masses of non-Christians to act in a Christian way or recognize Christian position beyond what is habitual and cultural in their life?

Culture changes. It just happens. That is an amoral principle of the world and human existence. It is not inherently evil that change occurs. Sometimes change is good, and sometimes it is bad.

We live in a post-Christian culture in America and in much of the rest of western civilization. We are surrounded by remnants of Christian influence but for the broader culture, these trappings are tradition, and either do not have religious significance or are thought less of because of their religious roots.

The fact that Christmas is still celebrated with such gusto, even if much of it is driven by cynical and selfish pursuits, should be heartwarming to all Christians.

There are bigger and more important things than that Walmart or Target allow the Salvation Army bell ringers outside their doors or greet you with “Merry Christmas”.

A person can enter heaven without once having uttered the word “Christmas” or having rung the bell or put spare and paltry change into the red pots.

A person cannot enter heaven without having accepted the Christ’s sacrifice as a human and God to pay the just penalty for their sins.

Christmas is an option. A good option. But it is not essential to salvation, nor even to evangelism.

I fear that by arguing over non-essentials, we Christians marginalize ourselves in the eyes of the surrounding culture. If the culture wearies of our crying over small things, when we cry over something big, they’ll disregard it. Yes, the boy who cried “wolf!” is a parable applicable to evangelism and salvation.

One final argument is taken from Jesus’ own words that Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. The person and their intent and action is more important than the name we use for a given holiday.

Respond to “Happy Holidays” with “And I hope you have a wonderful Christmas too”, showing by your genuine love and care that you are a person with their best interest at heart. Only you will know deep inside your heart that their best interest through the river of the blood of the baby born so long ago whose birth we celebrate globally today in the biggest, most amazingly awesome birthday party, who walked this earth teaching and who gave up His own life willingly, dying so the rest of us can live in His righteousness.

Don’t send someone else to hell because you are quibbling over how they recognize a holiday.

Medical Myths

These were no surprise to me, and most of them should be well and truly disproven for most people, but it still surprises me that we have so little understanding of our own bodies and yet claim to have such great knowledge of things outside ourselves.

Some of the myths debunked in this article are:

Daily Fluid Intake

There is no evidence to support the need to drink eight glasses of water a day…

The myths’s origin may have been a recommendation in 1945 which said 2.5 litres was a suitable fluid intake for adults and that most of this comes in prepared food. If the last part of the recommendation is omitted, it could imply the fluid intake should be in addition to normal food, suggested the researchers.

Eating Turkey

…Many experts say that the effect of tryptophan in turkey is probably reduced by the fact it’s eaten with other foods. The more likely explanation is that turkey is often eaten as part of a large solid meal, for instance at Christmas with stuffing, sausages and various other foods, and followed by Christmas pudding and brandy butter. Add to this the probability that wine is often consumed at the same time and it is not surprising that the myth has caught on. Eating a large solid meal like this decreases oxygen to the brain which can lead to drowsiness said the authors.

And a favored bugbear of ludites the world ’round:

Mobile Phones in Hospitals

…[The researchers] found scant evidence to substantiate the myth that mobile phones cause substantial interference with hospital equipment. They tracked down one journal article that listed 100 reports of suspected electromagnetic interference in medical equipment from mobile phones before 1993, which the Wall Street Journal made into front page news, after which hospitals banned the use of mobile phones.

But there is little evidence to support this policy said the researchers. In the UK early studies showed mobile phones interfered with as few as 4 per cent of the equipment and only when within one metre, while less than 0.1 per cent showed serious effects. Rigourous testing at a number of other laboratories and medical centres have also come up with very small percentages and again only when within 1 metre of the equipment.

A more recent study carried out this year found no interference in 300 tests in 75 treatment rooms, and in contrast the authors give an account of a survey of medical staff where use of mobile phones to stay in touch with each other was linked to reductions in risk of medical errors and injury resulting from delays in communication.

Technology has always been and will continue to be a favorite scapegoat and target for fear-mongers. What we don’t understand, we tend to fear.

In many ways, though we consider ourselves to be far beyond those dreary days we know as the Medieval times, the Dark Ages, we are still as profoundly ignorant and fearful as ever.

There really is nothing new under the sun, including mankind’s self-delusions of enlightened grandeur and his reality of befuddled fear.

The good news is that the mortality rate is still 100%. It has never wavered more or less. When we remember there is no promise of tomorrow and that to pin our hopes on that lustrous sunrise is to exercise maddening futility. We ought to appreciate each moment while living in such a way as to be prepared for tomorrow, should it come. Then we can live a life free of fear and deep with rich fulfillment.

Read the original article here.

Congratulations, It’s A God

Originally posted December 18th, 2006.

Pastor told a story of a Christmas play written and performed by K and 1st graders for a church. The play proceeded normally enough until Joseph and Mary arrived at the stable at which time there’s a knock at the “door” and Joseph welcomes a Doctor in a white coat and bearing a stethoscope. The doctor proceeds to Mary who is behind some hay bales and groaning and straining sounds occur normal to a birth scene. After the final cry and a baby wail the Doctor comes out to Joseph who has been pacing nervously across the stage during this time and says to him “Congratulations, it’s a God.”

What wonder must Joseph and Mary have felt in that time. They knew better than any other the amazing nature of the child Mary bore. Perhaps they didn’t grasp the all the implications pursuant to such an event, but the amazement factor itself must have been nearly overwhelming.

As good Jews they were well aware of the awesome nature of God and knew only a little of the Love He showed completely through His son. They knew Him as unapproachable and Holy. They couldn’t even say His name. And yet here He had given them a son, His Son, His ONLY Son. He’s entrusted them His heart. And in the same way He’s taken the ultimate risk with each of us, He’s given each of us His heart through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, whether we accept it or not. Think of the father, mother, lover, going out on a limb, as it were, setting themselves up for endless hurt and betrayal if their son, daughter, lover, ignores their love and spites them. God gave His life, laying it on the live for each one of us, individually. No greater love has no one than this, than that He lays down His life for another. Christmas is only the beginning, Easter is only the epic moment in time when timeless God Himself changed the course of His Story to our dim eyes. The end comes when each of us dies and is brought to reckoning. It won’t be a “were you good enough to shave off enough days of purgatory” as the Catholics believe. It won’t be a “am I in a good mood did you kill enough infidels or do other feats to further Islam” such as Muslims believe. It will be “did you accept my gift.”

When the good Doctor says “Congratulations, the baby is healthy, and it’s a God” He’s given to each of us a gift that we can accept or reject. All the rest are just bonus points, or filthy rags, as Paul calls them.

Holidays And New Year

From I, Pandora, here are wishes for a Merry Christmas to each and every one of you.

May this be an enjoyable time for all alike as we gather with friends and family to celebrate the giving of the greatest gift.

Over Christmas and the New Years and up until the 11th of January, I will not be blogging regularly.

However, I’ve schedule several new articles and several reposts of articles from when I, Pandora was young, over a year ago now. Regular posting will resume on the 14th of January.

I will be visiting in California the first two weeks of the New Year, seeing my hometown for the first time since I moved out to Chicago nearly a year ago now. Accompanying me will be my girlfriend who will be meeting my family for the first time (pray for her).

And so I pray that for each and every one of you, God will speak peace into your hearts as He did to us all so many years ago.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!