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Keeping Christ In...

Christmas is just a few hours away, but I wanted to share some thoughts about how we hear so much about Keeping Christ In Christmas.

At this season of the year, I hear many believers make an important statement - something like, "We need to keep Christ in Christmas." I completely agree. Unfortunately for many this tends to be a seasonal soapbox rather than a daily, year-round commitment to "contend for the faith." I don't know, maybe it's because we feel that the daily balance of greetings at this time of year tips the scale too far in the direction of Happy Holidays and not Merry Christmas. And, then there's the whole X-mas abbreviation that is completely annoying and yet in my humble opinion, totally powerless to stamp out the true meaning of Christmas. Jesus said, "I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it."

Keeping Christ in Christmas is not some kind of conservative political statement that absolutely must be made at this time every year just because we've heard some generic greeting too many times. Frankly, that idea is too small. Jesus didn't come into the world to create some subsection of a political party that would jump on a bandwagon of slogans at Christmastime. He came into the world to reach out with great love and compassion to the unbeliever (some of whom will claim to be offended at being wished a Merry Christmas). We who claim to be followers of Christ get offended at their offense and then start on a mission to somehow change it all. But when reading the Gospels, you will find that Jesus dealt with non-believers with grace while the "religious" crowd were often handed stinging rebukes for their outward piety and inward emptiness.

I don't think Jesus came into the world just to be at the center of Christmas. He came into the world to be the center of our lives every day of the year. After Christmas is over, are we keeping Christ in our New Year? We must pursue Him daily, not just at specific seasons of the year.

How do we accomplish this? Scripture always offers the best solution for us. The best way to keep Christ in Christmas is to keep Christ in our hearts and our daily lives through prayer. The greatest voice the Christian has is not at the polls or on some kind of soapbox at Christmas or any other significant Christian holiday, but the voice that James 5:16 says is "the prayer of the righteous" and that prayer is "powerful and effective." Keep Christ in... well, just keep Him in...everything!

From my heart to yours, Merry Christmas!
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Pillars

I’m not a builder. I now wish I had been, at least to some extent. I suppose I could’ve been, had I listened to my father a little more when he tried to teach me about carpentry, but I was too busy pursuing my junior high and high school baseball careers, which yielded little in the grand scheme of my life.

But, enough about the past. I do know a little bit about pillars, those vitally important support structures for buildings. I have been in a number of high-rise office buildings in downtown Chicago and have seen the massive columns as I walked through the lobbies. Without those supports, it would be impossible to build a Sears Tower or Hancock building.

What may strike you as you walk through one of those places and see those enormous pillars is how beautiful they are made to look on the inside. However, whatever kind of decorations are placed on those pillars to beautify them, the beauty of their function is not how ornate an interior decorator can cause them to be. Their beauty lies in the fact that they are holding up an entire building without any sound of stress. I would think twice about walking into a building where I heard the columns begin to creak and crack underneath the stress of that major structure. In fact, I think most of us would likely turn around and walk out the door getting as far away from the building as possible.

I was reminded a little while back about how essential it is to have pillars (spiritual pillars) in the local church. I battled illness for two days, and had to call upon a few people to help fill in the areas of responsibility that are generally mine to fulfill. These are the people that hold the whole thing together, or I should say, they hold it up so it doesn’t fall down. It is the strength of their faithfulness and their willingness to keep things moving forward in moments of minor crises that caused me as the pastor be grateful that I have a few pillars around upholding and supporting the ministry of our church.

So how is a pillar characterized in the local church?
  • First and foremost, a pillar must be spiritual. Since the ministry of Christ was a spiritual ministry, our ministry in and to the local church must first be a spiritual ministry which meets the spiritual needs of those in attendance.
  • Secondly, a pillar must be strong. The strength of a pillar is vital to the success of the local church. In times of storm and stress, their strength shows through.
  • Lastly, a pillar must be supportive. A pillar within the church, doesn’t seek leadership, but doesn’t shy away from it when called upon. The person carries out an important support role.
These three essential qualities of individuals within the local church will help the church to grow as it should.
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