Archive for Holiday

Lenten Lessons

Posted in Christian, Community, Devotion, Faith, Global, God, Holiday, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, Lent, Life, Prayer, Real Talk, Resurrection, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2015 by BigPhatPastor

Although I do not participate in Ash Wednesday, as many did this past week, I do acknowledge the purpose of Lent.  In the 4th century the early Church believers wanted to dedicate a time leading up to Resurrection Sunday to focusing on what Jesus Christ did for us by giving His life so that we might have life.  They decided to start that time of focus 40 days before Resurrection Sunday since Jesus Christ fasted for 40 days before jump starting His ministry.

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I get the people that give up things for Lent as a way of fasting and focusing on God’s love, goodness, and grace.  What I don’t get are people who just go through the motions.  I have talked to people who gave up meat for Lent and when I ask them why they literally just say “Because we are supposed to…aren’t we?”  Why would you engage in a 40 day long practice without knowing what you are doing or why you are doing it?  I’m not trying to judge, ridicule, or criticize anyone but here are a few suggestions,  #IMHO, to get the most out of Lent.

  1. DON’T give up anything for Lent if you don’t know why you are doing it.  That isn’t called fasting, it’s foolishness.
  2. DON’T give up anything for Lent without spending time that would normally be used engaging in what you are fasting from drawing closer to Christ by reflecting on what He gave up for you.
  1. DON’T spend the 40 days of Lent griping and moaning about what you gave up. That just shows you don’t really understand what’s going on.
  2. DO celebrate and rejoice in the fact that whatever you gave up pales in comparison to what Jesus Christ gave up for you and that He loves you with a never ending love. Rejoice in that for eternity.
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We Can Still Give Thanks…

Posted in Bible, Christian, Church, Community, Culture, Evangelism, Faith, Global, God, Government, Jesus Christ, Leadership, Life, Prayer, Real Talk, Spiritual, The Church with tags , , , , , , on November 26, 2014 by BigPhatPastor

In a week that should be capitalized with a time of giving thanks and praise to God for His blessings we as a nation are again divided over human hurts.  If nothing else, the events of this week in our nation  confirm how much this nation and this world needs the peace that only Jesus Christ can bring.  We need that peace so we are not fearful of people because of their race, or what clothes they wear, or what position of authority they hold. We need that peace so that hate is no longer one of the most powerful weapons on the planet.  We need that peace because it reveals the truth that every single life is precious to God and should be precious to His people.

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Now more than ever we, who are the Church, should pray for a spiritual awakening  across the nation: that the Gospel would be communicated across the full spectrum of American society and that people of all ages, races, backgrounds regardless of political affiliation or economic situation would be drawn to Jesus Christ and receive His life, His salvation, and His peace…and we should give thanks that we live in a nation that allows us to do so freely #givethanks

The First Un-Boxing

Posted in Bible, Celebration, Christian, Culture, Devotion, Digital, Electronics, Faith, Global, God, HIstory, Holiday, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, Resurrection, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2014 by BigPhatPastor

Although many people have moved on from their Christmas gifts to focusing on other things I am still playing with and intrigued by some of my gifts.  As a self-proclaimed techno geek (no, I do not think more highly of myself than I ought) I love playing with gadgets and technical things, especially one gift in particular.  I saw a video of a backup battery case in operation and thought it looked good so I gave one to my daughter as a Christmas gift.  She enjoyed it so much so I used a few of my Christmas gift cards to purchase one for my smart phone.  The case has a built in battery so if the phone’s battery gets depleted the case itself becomes a charger and can provide about 191% of the battery power needed to fully charge the phone.

empty-tomb-of-jesusI was  intrigued by the device because of the un-boxing videos I’ve seen for this and similar products.  For those that do not know an un-boxing video is not a review.  It is literally watching a person open a boxed product and take stock of what is inside.  The video will usually shine some light on what the product is, what it is used for, what the contents are, and a slight hint of what their review will hold.  Every time I watch an actual un-boxing, where the product has not been opened before, I feel as if I am sharing in the surprise, hope, and joy of the person opening the box. It is almost like watching people open Christmas gifts all year long.

Each year as we come upon the season commemorating Resurrection Sunday, I get that same level of excitement, hope, and joy.  I think of the wonderment of Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome as they brought spices to the tomb of Jesus and found the tomb open, or un-boxed.  I think of the amazement, unbelief, and spark of hope as they entered the tomb and found not a body, but an angel sitting inside.  Mark chapter 16 records the women were trembling and that they were amazed.  Some translations use the word bewildered.  However, the Greek word used is a word where we derive our English word “ecstatic”.  These women weren’t confused; they were in a state of divine hope and delight beyond reasoning.

Luke records that Peter ran to the tomb upon hearing it was empty and was filled with wonder whilst John records that they saw it empty and believed.  Oddly enough, in the very next verse John confirms that they didn’t understand that Jesus had to rise from the dead, yet still they believed.  The empty tomb, the first un-boxing if you will, was God’s fulfillment of scripture.  But it was also a sign, a guarantee of who Jesus Christ was, the Savior, the Son of God and of the Spirit filled life that would be there for all those who believed.

In the days and weeks leading to this year’s Resurrection Sunday Celebration, God invites us all to search our hearts; to determine what the empty tomb represents to each of us and to determine who Jesus will be in our lives.  Will His resurrection be just a historical event or will it be the earth shattering act from the Creator of the universe to show humanity that He knows us, cares about us, and is able to give us a new life in and with Him?  Will Jesus be just a teacher and religious icon that sparks societal controversy or will He be God in the flesh who lived, died, and was resurrected so that nothing would separate us from the love of God and so that we might spend an eternity experiencing God’s goodness, grace, and love?

Scariest Thing Ever

Posted in Bible, Christian, Culture, Devotion, God, Holiday, Jesus Christ, Life, Prayer, Real Talk, The Church, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2013 by BigPhatPastor

This past week I took a few teens from our youth group to a haunted house.  It was operated by a Christian organization called Teen Quest at a house in a community neighboring ours.  The scare was centered around an actual even that took place in the house, the 7 deadly sins, and an explanation afterwards about life, death, and Jesus’ perspective on it all.

BibleAs it was my first ever haunted house I didn’t know what to expect so I made the following pact with the teens: If anyone screams because they’re scared it stays between us.  For me the scariest part was twofold: 1) one lady got way to close to me with a rubber mouse that turned out not to be rubber (mice, bugs, varmints of any kind…I hate them all); and 2) there were times when we were in complete darkness for extended periods of time and had to maneuver forward.  As I was moving forward in the dark, I had my hands out in front of me slightly, expecting to touch a wall or something that would give me an idea of what direction to go.  I didn’t know if there was anything actually out there in front of me, but I was hoping there was and I was truly expecting there was, even though I didn’t know.

This got me thinking about what could possibly be the scariest thing on the planet for “some” Christians.  I would say the scariest thing is if God actually answered a prayer.  For some Christians, they have put their faith in the Bible because it is tangible and they can see and hold it.  They have trusted the Thou Shalt Nots and turned those sayings into their God.  Some other Christians have put their faith in their congregation for the same reason.  They can see and touch and interact physically with the group of people on Sunday morning.  They can hear their pastor’s message and hold it up as the thing they will try to do better each week.  But they have not put their faith in the One True God.  And if God actually answered their prayer they would be forced to take a look at putting their faith and trust in Him, not just in words they read but in the living Word.  Instead of walking forward slowly with hands outstretched towards their Bible or towards their congregation and the Sunday Celebration they would have to come out of the dark and acknowledge that God is their light, they would have to stop just going to church and acknowledge that God has called them to BE the Church.

Many of you are thinking that God answers prayer all the time.  But for many, for the living God to actually manifest Himself in the life of some people who call themselves Christians, that’s a pretty scary thought. It shouldn’t be, but sadly it is.  So my prayer for all of these people is that they get a good scare in the days to come.

Spoiler Alert: The Grinch Didn’t Steal Christmas

Posted in Bible, Celebration, Christian, Christmas, Community, Culture, Family, God, Holiday, Jesus Christ, Real Talk, worship with tags , , , , , , , , on December 14, 2011 by BigPhatPastor

This is the time of the year where some people celebrate Christmas and others divide over it.  You’ve probably come across some people who have determined that celebrating Christmas and all the traditions that go along with it are not biblical.  They say if you are a Christ follower then you are blaspheming the name of God by celebrating this pagan holiday (their words not mine).  They would be right except…

It is biblical to celebrate the birth of Christ.  There are over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament telling the Israelites and humanity to look forward to that day.  Jesus even said there were Old Testament people who would have “rejoiced” to see His day.  And at the birth of Jesus, not only did the shepherds celebrate, rejoice,  and share the good news, so did a portion of the angelic host of heaven.  All that is in the Bible so it is biblical to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

The birth of Jesus Christ may or may not be on the 25th of December, but does that matter?  Is it possible that God caused a warm spell specifically to cause shepherds to head out and be a witness to the single most miraculous event in history?  Possible but not a big deal if it wasn’t.  The early church was already looking for a day and a way to celebrate the birth of Christ before the 25th was established.  Early church leaders such as Hippolytus and Alexandria were in favor of it while others, like Origen, felt it should be separated from the way birthdays of false Gods or heads of state were celebrated.  One theologian in 320 AD stated “We hold this day holy, not like the pagans because of the birth of the sun, but because of Him who made it.”

The traditions of gift giving, having parties, bringing greenery into the homes, charity, yule logs, and festivals of food were associated with other cultural celebrations: Roman Saturnalia, Roman New Year, birth of the unconquered sun celebration, birthday of Mithras – a Persian deity.  However, in the book of Acts the Apostle Paul travels to Athens.  He tells the community there that the worship they are directing towards gods of stone and metal that do not talk nor exist should be directed toward the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that did exist and created all things.  In the same way, the early church redeemed the traditions mentioned above and informed the community at that time to direct their worship, via those traditions, away from Roman and Persian gods that did not exist towards a God that did exist and appeared before humanity as Jesus Christ.

If we forget why we are celebrating and what we are celebrating then the Grinch has succeeded in stealing our Christmas.

Thanks for More Than Just Giving

Posted in Celebration, Christian, Community, Culture, Devotion, Family, God, Holiday, Life, Real Talk, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2011 by BigPhatPastor

A few years back I can remember losing my job along with so many others in the dot.com crash.  I was sitting in a coffee shop with a good friend who kept reminding me of how faithful God was and how with all my talk about trusting God I knew I could trust God to see me through this.  At that time I can remember thinking and saying “Dude, shut up! I don’t need to hear that right now…I need to find a job and pay mortgage, and keep my car from getting repo’d.” Yea, I was the epitome of hypocrisy.

Although my car did end up getting repo’d God did see me through that time.  A while later I sat with that same friend after he lost his job reminding him of our conversation and letting him know the same God that saw me through would see him through as well.

So believe me, I mean it with all my heart with every fiber of my being that I am truly thankful for a God that loves me despite the pain, rejection, and anguish I have given Him. I’m thankful that He doesn’t remember all my sins but removes them.  I’m thankful that He doesn’t just stay with me through the storm but once I’m out reminds me that I can be with others when they are going through a stormy time.

It may sound like just a cheesy churchy saying but I am truly thankful for more than I can list.  Feel free to share what you are thankful for in the comments and share what you are thankful for with your friends and family and the people you do life with everyday.

It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like CHRIST-mas

Posted in Christmas, Community, Life with tags , , , , on November 19, 2009 by BigPhatPastor

The Christmas season has started in full swing (although many will not officially acknowledge it until Black Friday…which starts at 11:59 PM on Thanksgiving for most).  Decorations are all ready going up and Christmas cards are already disappearing off the store shelves.  Along with all of the good of the Christmas season comes a little of the not so good: The arguments and disagreements over holiday tree vs Christmas Tree and the fact that many cannot afford a tree nor decorations let alone a gift.

Both of these negative situations can be solved although in drastically different ways.  One takes an attitude change, while the other requires a change of heart.  The attitude change will have to come from Christians being ok with other people calling this a holiday season or calling a tree a holiday tree.  Now, hear me out before you start writing me the nasty gram asking why I don’t support the season or the tree being called Christmas.  I am a strong supporter of both…but I realize this is only significant for those who follow Christ.  If I did not follow Christ I would not care what it was called.  Why would we, or should we expect those who do not follow Christ to acknowledge His sovereignty over this holiday when they don’t acknowledge His sovereignty over anything else.  If I really thought my arguing or debating with non-Christians about it would change their mind I would be right there in the thick of the fight, debating with the best of em.  However, I think the best I can do to honor Christ is to impress upon those who follow Christ to honor Him and to show the love of Christ to those who don’t.  On the occasions that I have been allowed to share what the holiday means to me, I don’t hesitate to exalt Christ, what His birth means to and has done for me, and why I cherish this time of the year…but don’t look for a picket sign in my hand or for me to rail against those who call it a holiday season or a holiday tree.  If they don’t follow or know Jesus Christ, to them, it is just that…a holiday.  They are not celebrating His birth, they are just celebrating.  Rather than criticize them for what they are not calling it, we should rejoice for what we can call it.

The other situation requires a change of heart and I am so excited at the hearts that are being changed.  Although CrossRoads Community Church is one of the smallest churches in North America, we have consistently tried to meet the needs of the people in our community and in our city.  However, recently as we have tried, we are finding that other people in the community are beating us to it.   Local organizations like Crazy Christmas are stepping in and stepping up and meeting the needs of children and families in the community.  People at work are banding together and providing Thanksgiving meals and Christmas packages for neighbors and former co-workers who are unemployed.  Even though some of these groups are non-Christians, nothing else could be more God honoring than to give what you have to meet the needs of others.  Suffice it to say, even though the turkeys are not yet cooked and the trees are not all decorated…more and more it’s beginning to look a lot like Christ-mas.

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