Have we gone Christmas-crazy?

heart green

‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ Matthew 6:21

dolles on tree.jpg

Do you put your heart into Christmas? Do you buy presents for all your loved ones, friends, work mates and even those ‘acquaintances’ who will get offended if they don’t get a gift?  Do you get a Christmas tree and decorate it nicely (hands up those who have a ‘colour scheme’!)  What about Christmas grub?…Turkey is a given, right?  And everyone loves a mince pie or slice of chocolate log.  Plus lots of us will even put ourselves though the trial of eating a sprout for tradition-sake.  That’s before we’ve even mentioned Christmas songs, work-dos, festive TV ads, Santa’s grottos, and the all-important Christmas jumper.  Are we in fact going a bit ‘Christmas-crazy’?

Of course it can be magical…decorations and fairy lights brighten up our homes and streets.  The jingle of a Christmas song on the radio can lift the spirits on a gloomy drive into work, and cards through the post can be a nice way of keeping in touch with those afar off.

buy more

But it’s stressful too!  The cost of all the presents, decs, food, drink and outfits can be astronomical.  The shopping centres filling up from mid-October with Christmas merchandise and feverish shoppers can be quite alarming, and after weeks of build up, the day can feel over too soon, leaving a rather melancholy feel in its wake.

Skagerak Arena June 2009

So why do so many people buy into Christmas in such a huge way? Well, John Lewis have put their finger on it this year with their Christmas TV ad…whether you’re an Elton fan or not,  you can’t help feeling a little teary at the sight of the small boy actor looking blown-away by his present.  That’s what so many of us strive to cultivate isn’t it?  We want a Christmas day that lights up the faces of our loved ones.  We want to treat them, and share moments of job with them.

ntivity

The thing is we can get so lost in the materialism of Christmas we forget what we’re striving for.  Think about the birth of Jesus…he got gifts didn’t he?  Gold, frankincense and myrrh.  They were special gifts, chosen for him for a purpose and they have a place in the account of Jesus’s birth.  But most of the account is about the family themselves: Mary’s visit from the angel, Joseph and Mary travelling to Bethlehem, Jesus born in a stable, angels telling the shepherds that the baby that has been born is the promised saviour…it’s all about a family.  The most special family.  Why do we think God sent a host of angels to the shepherds singing praise?  After all, one angel had already informed the shepherds of the birth.  Don’t you think God was overjoyed at His son’s birth and wanted to show it?  He felt that joy that we want to feel when we celebrate Christmas. And for so many of us, Christmas is about family, and trying to show them we love them in order to create that shared joy.

mary joseph jesus

When the shepherds had visited Jesus and went off to spread the news about him, we are told, ‘Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.’ Luke 2.19.  She treasured this time, she thought about it.  I’m sure she was not expecting a group of total strangers to come visit her child, but she treasured their reaction and acknowledgement of her son as special. Jesus was the son of God and the most special child ever born for this reason.  But he was also Mary’s son, and special to her in that he was her child.  Every parent will know that bond, and parent or not, we all know that affection towards another, and we want to treasure the moments we have with them.  Christmas can be a great opportunity to do that, but it’s too easy to treasure the wrong things. Let’s not get so caught up in society’s pressure to buy-buy-buy that we forget the most important gifts…each other, and should you choose to believe it, God’ son, Jesus.

Maybe this Christmas when you take your moment to treasure the people in your life, whoever your ‘family’ is, be it biological or not, also take a moment to ponder that baby laid in a manger.  For that baby wasn’t just Mary’s child…he is our saviour.  That little family in the stable, was the beginning of a larger family we can all belong to.

Don’t just light up your Christmas day by being with loved ones, light up your life by acknowledging the one who loved you so much He sent his son to be your saviour.

bible light

If you fancy a daily Bible reading app there’s a great one here:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/daily-bible-readings/id536687049?mt=8

If you’re interested in knowing more how about God’s message, how about…

  • reading more of our blogs at morecambechristadelphiansblog.wordpress.com;
  • asking us for a free Bible if you haven’t got one;
  • receiving a free home learning course to help you explore and learn to read the Bible effectively;
  • receiving a free monthly Bible magazine called ‘Glad Tidings’;
  • meeting up to read the Bible together?

If you would like any or all of the above just contact us by either:

  • leaving us a phone message on 01524 745894 (Mon-Fri please);
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    (quote BI198)
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The Lamb of God

mary had a little lam[Mary had a little Lamb,

That’s what the bible says;

It didn’t have a fleece at all,

But in a manger lays.

 

 

Yes, a child born of a virgin,nativity

The Son of God indeed;

and destined soon to save the world:

Jesus the promised seed

 

Jesus in mangerThe Lamb of God, John the Baptist said,

All sins to take away;

He followed God in all He did

Kept all ill thoughts at bay

 

 

He gave His life, a sacrificecross carrired

To reconcile God to all;

That’s you and me and everyone

Who on His name does call.

 

If you fancy a daily Bible reading app there’s a great one here:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/daily-bible-readings/id536687049?mt=8

 

If you’re interested in knowing more how about God’s message, how about…

  • reading more of our blogs at morecambechristadelphiansblog.wordpress.com;
  • asking us for a free Bible if you haven’t got one;
  • receiving a free home learning course to help you explore and learn to read the Bible effectively;
  • receiving a free monthly Bible magazine called ‘Glad Tidings’;
  • meeting up to read the Bible together?

If you would like any or all of the above just contact us by either:

  • leaving us a phone message on 01524 745894 (Mon-Fri please);
  • emailing morecambechristadelphians@outlook.com;
  • writing free to:
    FREEPOST THE CHRISTADELPHIANS
    (quote BI198)
  • facebook @MorecambeChristadelphians
  • twitter @Bible4Morecambe

Stop dropping litter! #personalresponsibility

Remember Alfred Wainwright? If you walk in the Lakes you will. His drawings, maps and pathways are legendary, as he recorded his explorations for those that follow in his footsteps today.

buttermereThis is Buttermere, a small secluded lake, towered over by tall crags and ridges including Wainwright’s favourite place, Haystacks, harnessing the water to the south. He loved the place so much that he arranged for his ashes to be cast onto its slopes. To the north is the village of Buttermere itself, from where the circular walk around the lake is a mmon starting point for many.

 

The area is now owned by the National Trust following their purchase at auction decades ago, a deed to ensure that generations of families could enjoy the beauty of creation. What a noble gesture, what a fine aim and objective, one to be encouraged and treasured.

Or is it?

This was the scene the day after Bank Holiday at the end of August. I’m sure when the litter at buttermereNational Trust ask us to “give generously” they had other things in mind beside the detritus of life. So where have we gone wrong?

Perhaps as a “nation” we have “trusted” too often in entitlement rather than responsibility.

Why is it that we expect others to provide, accommodate and bend to our requirements, or our often selfish desires and needs? What happened to our personal responsibility, our sense of right and wrong, our absolute understanding that no man is an island. What we do, what we say and how we act affects others and ultimately ourselves as well. If someone else doesn’t clear this mess, then the next time we visit Buttermere we will be faced with a mountain and that doesn’t include the natural peaks that surround the lake.

But in a sense, these selfish actions don’t just apply in the natural world, they speak volumes about our spiritual life as well.

It’s not just Wainwright that cherishes the beauty of creation, the creator Himself has His eye on the whole world, particularly on you and I, the centre of His purpose.

He wants us to take control, take responsibility for our actions and consider what we do and why we do it. He wants us to think of others. He wants us to be more like Him, more like His son Jesus, who gave His very life so that others may benefit.

He’s the the only one who can clear up this whole mess, whether it is violence or war, poverty or hunger, greed or exploitation, selfishness or lack of moral control. This is the detritus that truly overflows into our lives.

He wants us to stop being so selfish, so self obsessed, taking to ourselves the pleasures of life like empty vessels with no substance, value or purpose, but to eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we shall die!

God has laid before us drawings, maps and pathways for us to follow, contained in the bible. Indeed, there we are taught to follow in the footsteps of His son Jesus, whose guidance directs us to the Kingdom of God.

There is, however, one requirement. Personal responsibility.

We have to acknowledge our wrongdoing, our errors, our lack of spiritual direction in a life bereft of God. “Repent and be baptised” is the teaching of God.

Let up us stop dropping debris, leaving mountains of problems for others to overcome. Let us take responsibility for our own actions and clear up the mess that follows us round 24/7.

Let us understand that what we have been doing is wrong and seek help from God. Let’s learn a new way of life, with new laws, motives and ideals. Let’s commit our lives to God, through Jesus and be an example to others as a son or daughter of God.

sunset

If you fancy a daily Bible reading app there’s a great one here:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/daily-bible-readings/id536687049?mt=8

 

If you’re interested in knowing more how about God’s message, how about…

  • reading more of our blogs at morecambechristadelphiansblog.wordpress.com;
  • asking us for a free Bible if you haven’t got one;
  • receiving a free home learning course to help you explore and learn to read the Bible effectively;
  • receiving a free monthly Bible magazine called ‘Glad Tidings’;
  • meeting up to read the Bible together?

If you would like any or all of the above just contact us by either:

  • leaving us a phone message on 01524 745894 (Mon-Fri please);
  • emailing morecambechristadelphians@outlook.com;
  • writing free to:
    FREEPOST THE CHRISTADELPHIANS
    (quote BI198)
  • facebook @MorecambeChristadelphians
  • twitter @Bible4Morecambe

It was a cold dark night when suddenly…

Booo!! ‘Spooky in the dark’ was always a favourite game amongst the kids at family get togethers when I was growing up. You close the curtains, turn out the lights, and hide. Then someone enters the dark room and tries to find everyone as their eyes adjust to the dark. It was hide and seek with the lights off; it felt intense, scary!

spooky-450795_1280

I do wonder whether we have a strange fascination with being scared. Whether it’s by watching a tense film or jumping out on people to shock them, feeling scared or shocked is perhaps appealing in a strange kind of way. Of course being afraid of the right things keeps us alive, it’s probably a good idea to be afraid of sharks, cliff edges, and [insert whatever you’re afraid of here]. But what about fear when there is seemingly nothing to be afraid of? Fear of the unknown? Fear of the dark?

The dark will be full of strange creatures, monsters and ghouls over the next few days as the UK and the US gear up for another Halloween. I’m left wondering what’s really at the heart of Halloween and what it’s all about. On one side it seems to be just another commercial success as Halloween becomes the third biggest ‘event’ for retailers behind Christmas and Easter, with shoppers in the UK estimated to spend a staggering £400 million on Halloween items this year. Maybe it’s just another excuse for us to dress up, to have some fun, and for kids to demand sweets from strangers with veiled threats of ‘tricks’ to those who don’t cough up! But does it go deeper? And should we get involved?

There’s a decent litmus test to help us here in these words from Paul:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8 (ESV)

I suppose the question to ask is whether or not Halloween is based on values such as truth, honesty, justice, purity, love, goodness? If it isn’t, should we spend our time ‘celebrating’ it?

I’m not entirely sure to what extent people who celebrate Halloween think they are really conversing with the dead, maybe in darker ages people were more genuinely concerned with connecting with ‘other worlds’. In ancient times God warned against paying attention to those who thought they could summon the dead:

“When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God”

Deuteronomy 18:9-13 (ESV)

In more modern times Paul again encouraged us to:

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Ephesians 5:11 (ESV)

So as we spend time thinking about Halloween, it’s origins and what it stands for, the darkness, fear and threat that comes with it, perhaps we should instead think of the light which Jesus spoke of:

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 (ESV)

Whatever your views are of Halloween, whatever enjoyment you get from playing ‘Spooky in the dark’, I’m comforted by the light of the Gospel, the light of Jesus, and the positive message he brings.

Can the dead come back to life? The Bible Says YES – but not yet!

Jesus rose from the dead and can never die again. Resurrection of those who believe in him is the true Christian hope. True followers of Jesus will live again – for ever – when he comes back to the earth. This is a far more uplifting and much more powerful than the things which don’t really go bump in the night.

“For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.”

I Corinthians 15:21-23 (ESV)

Friend Request

One of the clearest and most profound teachings of Jesus was to love one another and to be limitless in the extent to which we show that love to others, even to the point where we would give our life for them. We can find these powerful and inspiring words in the Gospel of John chapter 15:

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” John 15:12-14 (ESV)

The invitation to be Jesus’ friend by following his teachings is an opportunity to enjoy a relationship with him, other believers and through him with the Lord God.

These relationships and connections are important to us. When God created people he saw that it was not good for us to be on our own (Genesis 2:18). The benefits of connecting with others are clearly explained in Ecclesiastes chapter 4:

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV

It’s reassuring to remind ourselves that in forming relationships with others we can get more done, pick each other up when we fall, benefit from physical and emotional warmth and comfort, and find more security from spiritual attack.

How many friends do we need? It’s quality not quantity.

Computer Network Social Media Connection Network
Computer Network Social Media Connection Network

Just how many friends do we actually need? The pressure to collect friends on social media is an example of a long standing need to be liked, accepted, and popular. It’s reassuring that the Bible reminds us that it’s the quality, and not the quantity of these friendships which is important. One of the Proverbs explains that there are dangers in having lots of companions, and to rely on that much closer friendship from the one who becomes close to us than family:

“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24 (ESV)

Later in the Proverbs we’re reminded that it is in these quality friendships that we find support, guidance and counsel:

“Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.” “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:9 & 17 (ESV)

I think verses like this remind us that if, as friends, we don’t build each other up in a positive, helpful, warm and loving way, we run risk of be coming dull, miserable, fractious and separate.

And so the Bible is fully of great examples of friendships which help us to think about the connections we make, and the way we show our love to others…

  • Job’s friends remind us that being a friend is difficult; sometimes you just don’t know what to say or do (Job 2:11-13)
  • Jesus demonstrates to us that friends forgive one another (John 21)
  • The relationship between Jonathan and David teaches us that friendship is about closeness and sacrifice (1 Samuel 18:1-4)
  • The connection between Elijah and Elisha shows us that friends stick it out at all costs (2 Kings 2)
  • And Ruth’s devotion to Naomi should convince us that friendship transcends social demographics (Ruth 1:16-17)

Let’s finish with an exhortation to consider the ‘bond of peace’ which should exist between followers of Jesus. A quick peek into a concordance shows us that this ‘bond’ is like a ligament which connects one bone to another thereby holding a person’s body together. Paul in Ephesians 4 encourages us to pay attention to these bonds, the connections we have with others and the way we behave towards them.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call — one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:1-6 (ESV)

The Call of Jesus

 

Come unto me, says Jesus and I will give you rest.head in hands 2

Those that are heavy laden who find that life’s a test.

We often think we’re troubled, full of problems, fears or dread.

But Jesus offers solace, by his word our souls are fed.

 

heartLearn of me, says Jesus, who is meek and pure of heart.

A Son who hears His Father, invites others to please take part.

Put His yoke upon you, and your burden will be light.

For He will travel with you, for the Kingdom is in sight.

footprints

 

Follow me, says Jesus, the disciples first to hear.

But others too can join them, as they listen to the seer.

God asks us, “now just think a bit” what the words before you mean.

And change your thoughts to Jesus, so that he in you is seen.

I am the way

If you’re interested in knowing more how about God’s message, how about…

  • asking us for a free Bible if you haven’t got one;
  • receiving a free home learning course to help you explore and learn to read the Bible effectively;
  • receiving a free monthly Bible magazine called ‘Glad Tidings’;
  • meeting up to read the Bible together?

If you would like any or all of the above just contact us by either:

  • leaving us a phone message on 01524 745894 (Mon-Fri please);
  • emailing morecambechristadelphians@outlook.com;
  • writing free to:
    FREEPOST THE CHRISTADELPHIANS
    (quote BI198)
  • facebook @MorecambeChristadelphians

Peace for our time

Exactly 80 years ago, on the 30th of this month, Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister, Neville_chamberlain.jpgstood on the steps of Downing Street and proclaimed the now famous words, “My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is “peace for our time”. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.”

The earlier reference was to Benjamin Disraeli, following his return from the Congress of Berlin in 1878, a conference that determined the territorial split of land in the Balkans following the end of the Russo-Turkish War. History tells us that the aftermath of both these statements were ultimately seen in 1914-18 and 1939-45.

Jesus also talks about peace, not in a “I believe” sort of way, but in a true, factual, it will happen way.

If you asked most people to describe what peace is or means, then I think they would equate it to the absence of war, but Jesus was talking about much, much more, than the absence of war.

The Hebrew greeting “Shalom” perhaps comes closest to the full extent of the Jesus’ meaning. Shalom comes from a root word “Shalam” and means “to be safe in mind, body or estate”. This is the peace that Jesus teaches us about.

peace cupHe means, even though we may be in conflict, with troubles of life crushing the last ounce of positivity from our thoughts, our inner mind and body, indeed our very self can be at peace. Why? Well that comes from faith in Jesus.

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14 v 27)

The work of Jesus, a faith in him, gives us access to such inner peace, because then we may be at one with God. He is in control of all things and we are in His care.

Yes, eventually, when Jesus returns to establish the Kingdom of God on Earth and God dwells once more with His creation, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev 21 v 4). War and conflict of any kind will end.

But today, here and now, Jesus wants us to be at peace, spiritual peace, so that whatever the slings and arrows of life may confront us with, ultimately we know that we are safe in the care of the Father, and He will give us rest.

This is “Peace for our time”.

It’s not wishful thinking, it’s not something that others can take away from you, it’s a personal intimate state of mind that comes with faith in Jesus the Saviour.

So call on Him because Jesus is at work, at work for you, bringing the day of His return one step closer, when peace, including the absence of war, will be a reality.

phillipians quote

If you’re interested in knowing more how about God’s message, how about…

  • asking us for a free Bible if you haven’t got one;
  • receiving a free home learning course to help you explore and learn to read the Bible effectively;
  • receiving a free monthly Bible magazine called ‘Glad Tidings’;
  • meeting up to read the Bible together?

If you would like any or all of the above just contact us by either:

  • leaving us a phone message on 01524 745894 (Mon-Fri please);
  • emailing morecambechristadelphians@outlook.com;
  • writing free to:
    FREEPOST THE CHRISTADELPHIANS
    (quote BI198)
  • facebook @MorecambeChristadelphians