“Christmas” or “The Advent”? In Light of the Cross

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Christmas   The Advent in Light of the Cross, Day 18.

During this time of year the world turns their attention to the Bible account of the first Advent of Christ. You can read about it in Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2.  As Jesus’ disciples, fulfilling the gospel commission in Matthew 28:19-20, We must take advantage of every opportunity just as Jesus did.

Jesus saw in every soul one to whom must be given the call to His kingdom. He reached the hearts of the people by going among them as one who desired their good. He sought them in the public streets, in private houses, on the boats, in the synagogue, by the shores of the lake, and at the marriage feast. He met them at their daily vocations, and manifested an interest in their secular affairs. He carried His instruction into the household, bringing families in their own homes under the influence of His divine presence. His strong personal sympathy helped to win hearts.–Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, p. 151.

I have been confused by some of the feedback I have received from professed Christians, saying we should not celebrate the birth of Jesus since He was not born on December 25. They turn around and say we should celebrate Jesus everyday. My question is, “Isn’t December 25 a day. Why stop sharing Jesus on December 25 just because He was not born on that day? ” I share Jesus everyday including December 25.

I understand now, why many Christian Protestant writers are now referring to the “Advent” instead of “Christmas.” Christmas has pagan connotations, while “Advent” sounds more Biblical. That is all well and good. I am not promoting anything pagan. I am only trying to share Jesus with my friends around the world. Still I get feedback from vigil ante Christians telling me Christmas is pagan and not Biblical. I do not publish these comments on my blog posts, because, while I am trying to share Jesus with those who may not know Him, they would find these comments very confusing. While I understand what these commenters are talking about, those who don’t know Jesus yet would not. They would only take the comments to mean that Jesus is pagan, since they do not have the same viewpoint as we do.

Jesus used terms and parables that the people could associate with and understand. The un-churched understand the word “Christmas” and can relate to it. As far as pagan or Biblical they have no opinion or notions. The word “Christmas” is nothing more than an open door for me to share Jesus. I can use the word “Advent” instead and that may be more appealing to people who are already Biblical, but that word is not going to mean anything to a world dying in sin, desperate for the good news of a Savior. “Advent” is a foreign term to them, and Jesus uses terms people can relate to in their daily lives.

The parables, by means of which He loved to teach lessons of truth, show how open His spirit was to the influences of nature, and how He delighted to gather the spiritual teaching from the surroundings of daily life.

 He drew illustrations also from the events of life, facts of experience familiar to the hearers–the leaven, the hid treasure, the pearl, the fishing net, the lost coin, the prodigal son, the houses on the rock and the sand. In His lessons there was something to interest every mind, to appeal to every heart.  –Ellen White, Child Guidance, Pages 51-52 

In order to reach the world we must overcome our narrow-minded thinking, and tunnel vision. Jesus was always right. He was always theologically correct, but He was also open minded, and was often grieved by the narrow-minded and bigoted self-righteous pharisees. December 25 is not the mark of the beast. December 25 does not oppose the seal of God in any way. December 25 is a day like any other day that the psalmist said we should rejoice in.

My posts do not promote anything pagan. They do not promote Christmas parties with drinking. They do not promote Santa Clause or any kind of mythology.

My  posts only promote Jesus and the Biblical accounts of His life, sacrifice and resurrection. Comments concerning what my posts are actually about are most welcome! Comments that would lead those seeking a Savior, even closer to God are most welcome. Thank you!

Aaliyah and Trei’s Baptism Pictures

Sabbath, July 16 was another special Sabbath for the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist church as two young people gave their lives to Jesus in baptism. They wanted to give all of themselves to Jesus because He had given all of Himself for them.

In 2008 ASI came to Tampa and held some evangelistic meetings. Wes, an ASI Bible worker met and studied with Larry and Janice, who became baptized. It did not stop there though.  For the next three years Larry and Janice have been sharing Jesus with all of their friends and family. Several of their family members have been visiting my New Believers Sabbath School Growth Group. Larry in now a deacon, and Janice distributes literature in her neighborhood and everywhere she goes.

Larry and Janice’s granddaughter, Aaliyah also goes with Janice, distributing literature and inviting people to church. She had been wanting to be baptized for a while. She did a very good job on her baptism workbook, and when I came over to study with her and her grandmother, she always had all of her lessons filled out, along with some insightful notes she had made at the end.

Trei and his parents faitfully attended my baptism class at church on Sabbath mornings. Trei completed his work and was always happy to pray and answer questions in my class. Trei’s mother Leila is also helping me with a Growth Group on Wednesday nights. Trei and his family like to encourage others to know Jesus and to share Bible truths with them.

Pastor Brad went over the baptismal vows with Aaliyah and Trei before the baptism.

“I want to be baptized because I love God and want Him in my life. I want to be closer to Him. I know He is more important than anything else. I’m ready to give up my life for Him and my heart inside is saying I need to be baptized.” -Trei

“Getting baptized for Jesus means becoming a better person and follwing Jesus and the commandments. I want to be baptized so I can have my sins washed away not go behind God’s back and sin all the time. I want to live a new and better life for Jesus.” – Aaliyah

Russel Norton was one of the first to welcome Trei and Aaliyah to the Tampa First family right after church service today.

 

Redemption in Romans, Lesson 11

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Friday’s section of this week’s SS Lesson asks, “What can we learn from the mistakes of many in ancient Israel? How can we avoid doing the same things today?”

I think as a whole we have the same struggle ancient Israel had when it comes to a proper association with the rest of the world. It appears to me, that either we join them in “Baal worship” or we have nothing to do with them whatsoever.  Jesus showed us the perfect balance to take.  In Matthew 5:13 Jesus says we are the salt of the earth. Salt is to have saving qualities. At the same time, salt must be mixed with the food in order to have any kind of savor. Likewise we must have some association with the world. Please allow me to share some quotes from the classic Desire of Ages and Ministry of Healing, that may help us find a healthy balance.

As disciples of Christ we shall not mingle with the world from a mere love of pleasure, to unite with them in folly. Such associations can result only in harm. We should never give sanction to sin by our words or our deeds, our silence or our presence. Wherever we go, we are to carry Jesus with us, and to reveal to others the preciousness of our Saviour. But those who try to preserve their religion by hiding it within stone walls lose precious opportunities of doing good. Through the social relations, Christianity comes in contact with the world. Everyone who has received the divine illumination is to brighten the pathway of those who know not the Light of life.   We should all become witnesses for Jesus. Social power, sanctified by the grace of Christ, must be improved in winning souls to the Saviour. Let the world see that we are not selfishly absorbed in our own interests, but that we desire others to share our blessings and privileges. Let them see that our religion does not make us unsympathetic or exacting. Let all who profess to have found Christ, minister as He did for the benefit of men.  –Desire of Ages, p.  152

  Jesus saw in every soul one to whom must be given the call to His kingdom. He reached the hearts of the people by going among them as one who desired their good. He sought them in the public streets, in private houses, on the boats, in the synagogue, by the shores of the lake, and at the marriage feast. He met them at their daily vocations, and manifested an interest in their secular affairs. He carried His instruction into the household, bringing families in their own homes under the influence of His divine presence. His strong personal sympathy helped to win hearts.– Desire of Ages, p. 151

     Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, “Follow Me.”–The Ministry of Healing, p. 143

How big of a mission field do you have as an ambassador for Christ? How many non Christians do you have on your cell phone contact list? In other words how many non Christians do you come in contact with on a friendly every day basis?  How many non Christians do you have as Facebook friends? Are you being exclusive and reclusive like the Pharisees or are you reaching out to the world in the same way Christ did? Christ calls us all to be missionaries. He may not need us to go overseas but He may be asking you to leave your big comfy church and Christian Community and move to a dark county where there are no churches for miles and start mingling with the people there and start a new church. He may be asking you to drop out of your church softball league and join a secular league where you can reach people you could reach no other way. I am just thinking out loud here, but you get the idea. 🙂 In Isaiah 58 God tells ancient Israel that while they thought they were worshipping God by debating theology in the temple with their friends, that real worship is going out to share His love and mercy with the world.

You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light Of The Cross.

Sharing Jesus on Myspace

n529924774_1066451_1248I am writing again from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.  Deuteronomy 6:6-9

 

God wanted the Israelites to know what they were all about. He also wanted the Israelites to let everyone else know that they were all about the Gospel of their Creator and Redeemer. Sure they had other interests too from various forms of work and recreation, but what was posted on their gates and houses was what they were all about.

 

What are you all about?

 

On a recent trip from Florida to Tennessee to see my sister I became hungry for some fast Mexican food. Soon I saw the sign for Taco Bell. Now the sign and the name told me right away this would be a Mexican restaurant. Their sign told me what they are all about. That is good. I needed to know what they were all about and they needed me to know what they were all about. If I wanted hamburgers then I needed to go elsewhere. Hamburgers were not what they were about.

 

You may not realize it but you have signs that tell people what you are all about. What is that catchy slogan on your t-shirt? What is that poster people see on your bedroom wall as soon as they open the door? What is the first picture people see when they log into your Myspace? It is what you are all about. That’s good. Really, no matter what you have on your bedroom wall or Myspace it is good that you are telling people what you are all about. That way you only attract people who need what it is that you are all about. If I want hamburgers then I don’t need to waste my time going to Taco Bell, and if I am searching for Jesus and the hope the gospel brings then I don’t need to waste my time on a website offering pornography and vice versa.

 

When Jesus walked the earth whether or not you liked Him, you always knew what He was all about. In chapter 53 Isaiah says, “There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him.” NLT That’s not to say he was ugly just that He was not all about His physical appearance. No doubt many women were attracted to Him but not for physical reasons but for a higher purpose. Physical attraction was not what Christ was all about. Now Christ loves beauty and He loves for people to be physically beautiful just as much as He loves a beautiful sunset or lush green meadow. Christ just made it clear what He was really all about. The nail scarred hands. The eyes of tenderness, His smile of hope tell us what He is all about.

 

In 1 Peter 3:3-4 Peter tells wives with unbelieving husbands to let them know what they are all about. “Whose adorning let it not be that outward [adorning] of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But [let it be] the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, [even the ornament] of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” In this context we see Peter is not condemning physical attraction but is rather telling wives, “make it clear what you are all about. Not physical carnal things but something deeper and more spiritual from the heart.”

 

It’s all well and good for a man to be physically attracted to a woman and vice versa. However we need to attract people to what we are all about. They need to know. The Israelites did not spend all day just posting the gospel on their gates and homes, but by having it posted there people knew what they were all about. It’s a different world today. We don’t post things on our gates and homes necessarily but we do post things other places. What is posted on your Myspace right now? Whatever it is, that is what you are telling the world and heaven you are all about. Some children are scared to let their parents or mentors find their Myspace. If you are afraid of someone you respect finding your Myspace then you may ask yourself why that is. Are you hiding something? An inspired author writes that Christians are to be transparent as the sunlight with nothing to hide and no facades. By the way, your parents and mentors know when you have one Myspace for the world to see and then another one that is more appropriate that you try to pass off as your only Myspace. If you think they have not found it or seen what you do not want them to, still your friends and your Savior have found it and they know what you are all about. Embarrassed? I hope not. If you are, then look by faith into those tender eyes of pity. Place your hand into His nail scared hands and ask His forgiveness. Not forgiveness for an inappropriate picture or slogan you have posted but even more so for not being all about the One Who is all about you. Funny how the One who sees and knows everything about us suddenly has the worst memory in the universe when we ask His forgiveness!

 

Sexy pictures and dirty talk are all rampant on the Internet. You can find it anywhere and everywhere. Ask yourself if that is what you want to be. Ask yourself what you are really all about. Ask yourself if the things you have on your Myspace really represent your ambition in life. I don’t know what you have on your personal Myspace but I can guarantee you, you were meant for more than what is mostly out there. Sadly many people are looking for that sort of thing but if so let them find it somewhere else not with you. Meanwhile there are people looking for more than a sexy face or dirty joke. They are looking for a Savior. Will they find Him on your Myspace?

 

Jesus says not to hide the light under a bushel. When I was hungry for Mexican food I needed to see the sign. I needed to know what Taco Bell was all about. They did not hide their sign from me. They made it easy for me to find them. Meanwhile there are millions starving for the gospel. Will they find it on your Myspace or will they just find what is found on any typical teenagers Myspace? Please let people know what you are all about and offer them something special that they won’t find on just any Myspace. Please help people meet Jesus on your Myspace. After all, that is what you are all about, right?

 

Whether it is our house our gates, or our Internet, What we have posted is what we are all about.

 

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.  1 Thessalonians 5:21-22

 

I want to apologize now if anything I have written so far has come across as being judgmental or condemning. I don’t mean to assume your Myspace is inappropriate but at the same time my purpose here is to help us take a good look at ourselves and let God make the appropriate changes. I know many who desire to be all about God but temptations and peer pressure make it an uphill battle. I have had to erase my words on page and take back some spoken words when I realized that what I had said or written was not really what I wanted to be about. By trial and error and the grace of God I have found some ways to stay focused on what I am all about. The Internet can be a world of good as well as a world of evil. Please let me pass along some ideas I have found to help us remember and stay focused on what we are all about.

 

Preserving and protecting what you are all about.

 

Accountability Accountability Accountability!!! Did I mention accountability? I hope so because it is so important in keeping us honest and on the right track. Accountability does not infer that you are a bad person. Accountability is just a healthy way of life. Our church has an excellent church treasurer. She is as honest as the day is long. However every church board meeting she brings a financial report and gives accountability. Why? Not because we do not trust her of course we do! Accountability is just a way to document who we are and what we are about. On the Internet we need to give accountability. What that means is our parents and spiritual mentors need to know what is going on just like an honest church treasure lets people know what is going on. Honest people don’t hide things and say ‘don’t you trust me?” Honest people put everything out in the open.”  This is especially true when it comes to the Internet.

 

Many people recommend having the computer in a family room where everyone frequents. It does not belong in the parent’s bedroom or the child’s bedroom. It belongs in the living room or some part of the house the entire family shares. This makes a lot of sense. It keeps us honest. Now in my case I am a single person who lives alone. So any room I have is a private room. Still there are measures I take to provide accountability. I do not have my own Internet connection at home so I am often on the Internet at the church or public library.  This is my way of avoiding the appearance of evil or opening the door for temptations. Since I am single and have no wife or children to keep an eye on me I have an accountability system with a friend in Texas where if I go to an inappropriate site he will know about it and talk to me about it. I am glad to report that he has never had to call me so far. You can find various systems like this on the Internet.

There are various forms of evil on the Internet, not just sexual immorality. I am a mystery buff and I have caught myself staying up all night reading true life crime mysteries till it hit me that the amount of time I was spending on this subject just wasn’t healthy. Many of these stories I ran across while surfing. So I simply don’t surf anymore. I have an agenda when I get on the Internet. Let’s say I need to pay a bill online, check my email and see what the weather will be like tomorrow for my golf game. Then I do those three things and then get off the Internet. I believe that many of us have good intentions and don’t get on the computer to look for evil but when we are just aimlessly surfing we find it or it finds us, so just like when we write a grocery list and then go home as soon as we find everything on the list instead of continuing to roam the store, we need an agenda for the Internet and then get off once we have completed our agenda.

 

Passwords. Some one needs to know your password. If you are a teenager, then sorry, but your parents need to know your password. They need to know what pictures you are posting and what you are writing. They also need to know who you have been communicating with. You may value your privacy but I can assure you it is not as valuable as your safety and your salvation! I am not saying your folks need to read every e-mail you write or text you send but if they do then that’s their business not mine. What I am saying is they need access. They need to know what is going on. They need to do “spot checks” so that there is accountability and checks and balances. Remember trustworthy people don’t hide things.

 

Of course you don’t need your dad reading the e-mail you sent Aunt Miriam about the surprise birthday party you are throwing him, but it is still okay for dad to know that you have Aunt Miriam in your address book and you do correspond with her. That’s a good thing.

 

Now I should not have to tell you how stupid and dangerous it is to chat online with people you don’t know much less trust. You may have seen the “To Catch A Predator” shows on NBC’s Dateline. The predators are stupid but also how smart can you be to be 14 years old and arrange a meeting with a grownup you have never met before without your parents being there. That is just stupid! You don’t really need to be meeting with any adult without your parents or other adult friends being there much less alone with a stranger. Please tell me you will never do something this stupid so we can just go on now. Thank you, I knew you were smarter than that.

 

I know I am not a pioneer in writing when I tell you that it is by beholding that we become changed. This cliché has been repeated a million times because it is true. We need to be careful what we see on the Internet as well as what we post. I love to write and have been writing blogs and devotionals on the Internet ever since I got my first computer. There are a lot of things I would love to write about but I don’t because I don’t want to distract people from my main purpose in writing and that is to bring people to Jesus. I have been tempted to write political blogs and sports blogs and all, but I have to ask myself over and over what I’m all about. I am not saying everyone should just write religious dissertations all the time. At the same time we all have a purpose and once again we need to be finding and sharing something that is not easily found elsewhere and that is Jesus. People can find sports and political blogs anywhere. I want to offer something that can’t be found just anywhere. I hope you feel the same way. Lets let Paul have the final words as he says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8 

 

 

Sharing Jesus on Myspace

 

 

And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all [men] did marvel.  Mark 5:20

 

In Mark chapter 5 we read about a man who was possessed by demons until Jesus came and set him free. The man now goes abroad and publishes in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him. This man like everyone else who has had an encounter with Jesus just had to share Him with others. Even when Jesus told people not to tell what He had done for them, they just couldn’t contain themselves and had to share it with the whole world. It is the same today. If you have had a real experience with Jesus Christ than you too will want to share Him all over the place-including the Internet!

 

The man in Mark 5 published where he could. His audience was Decapolis and his venue was his mouth. Today we publish many ways but posting our story on the Internet is one of them. Our venue can be the Internet. Let’s take Myspace for example.

 

There are several resources where you can find videos, music, backgrounds and more to help you publish and post what you are all about. Here are two places I found helpful:

http://www.christianmyspacecodes.com/

http://christianmyspace.com/

 

Why not also include on your myspace ways for people to find out more about Jesus? Now you don’t need to make a spectacle of yourself to do this. Some people get annoyed if you bang on their door asking to do Bible studies, but by just sharing a link you give them a non intimidating opportunity to check something out. Here are some ideas:

 

http://bibleschools.com/

 Is the website for the Discover Bible School. You may take lessons online or through the mail however they want. Lessons are available in the kidzone section for kids and early teens. Check it out!

 

http://www.cornerstoneconnections.net/index.php

Is the website for the cornerstone Bible Study lessons for young people. Many churches use these in their Sabbath School lessons.

 

http://www.tampaadventist.net/

Is the website for my church. You may wish to share your church’s website. By sharing your church’s website you are sharing a little more about your world and who you are as well as sharing Jesus.

 

http://www.amazingfacts.org/

Is a site filled with all kinds of free studies and material about Jesus.

 

http://inlightofthecross.com/

And of course you can share my site that I have put together with all kinds of studies and inspirational stories and pictures.

 

Of course there are a lot more sites and resources our there that will help you share Jesus and let the whole world know what you are all about but this is a start.

 

Here are some parting thoughts. In Revelation 3:5 Jesus says, “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” 

Can you imagine anything more exciting than your name rolling off the lips of Jesus as He brags about you before the Father? Jesus is just as excited when we brag about Him before our friends! In Luke 9:26 Jesus says, “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and [in his] Father’s, and of the holy angels.”  It is so crazy how Satan tries to get us to be too embarrassed to share Jesus. We should be proud of all that Jesus has done for us! We should never be afraid or embarrassed to share Jesus anytime and anywhere in the right way.

 

Isaiah says in Isaiah 50:4, “The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to [him that is] weary.” There are many soul weary people today that could use an encouraging word from Jesus. Will you pass that encouraging word along on your Myspace? In Psalms 63:1 David cries out, “my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.”  Many like David today are hungering and thirsting for Jesus in a land where people want to talk about their sports, fashions and looks, their money and sex lives, everything imaginable except Jesus who is the exactly what this world is hungering and thirsting for. Your Myspace could be the difference in someone’s life. On Myspace you will find all kinds of people sharing their dark feelings in their profiles. Some are depressed and even suicidal. Some are struggling with self destructive addictions. All over the web they can find things to feed their addictions and suicidal tendencies. I pray that on your website they will find something different. I pray they will find Jesus.