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Archive for December, 2009

This doesn’t have to happen.

December 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Christmas, as you probably know, can be a mixed blessing. On the one hand, we have a wonderful celebration of the birth of Christ, where we get the opportunity to pause and reflect on the miracle of the Incarnation – the fact that Jesus is Immanuel – “God with us”. On the other hand, we have the Christmas Vortex, the dreaded holiday drain that sends us rushing in every direction at once, consuming all of our time, energy and resources, inevitably drawing us into another Christmas tradition: the Christmas Meltdown. It usually either begins or ends with the tree.

So how do we manage to face Christmas, which is by nature a busy holiday, without slipping into the Christmas Vortex? I think we stumbled on the answer last Saturday.

Last Saturday was our WECC Christmas Café, an event that our Church hosts for our families, friends and neighbours, which includes a Christmassy (spell check let that one go!) atmosphere, big league desserts, imported Tim’s coffee, Christmas carolling, improv, special music (featuring some of our own, along with DMCI’s Chamber Choir – awesome!), and a gospel message. I was coordinating the event this year, helped by a sturdy crew of steadfast brothers and sisters who know how to serve.

It was work. People spent hours and hours designing tickets and delivering flyers, setting up tables, decorating, practicing music, gathering volunteers, making desserts, preparing the program…it was a formidable task for our Church to take on. In fact, one might wonder why we would do such a thing right in the middle of everyone’s own personal Christmas crisis. Why not leave well enough alone? Aren’t we just setting ourselves up for the Meltdown?

 That’s why Saturday night was so interesting. As I watched the event unfold, I didn’t see frayed nerves or exhausted Christmas zombies. In fact, I saw people going above and beyond the call of duty with energy, gusto and, I think, JOY. I would have been more surprised at this if I wasn’t feeling the same thing. After 6 straight hours of work on that Saturday alone, I was feeling great. No Vortex. No Meltdown. Just joy.

How did this happen? Did someone put something in the desserts? Was it the Tim’s coffee? Probably not. What I saw was people experiencing THE JOY OF SERVING. I realize that, according to the current thought in this world, putting “joy” and “serving” in the same sentence constitutes a paradox. But not according to Kingdom thought. Jesus said, “…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Even with this mandate of extreme service, the Bible records many times that Jesus was full of joy!

So we somehow managed to find the Lord in the serving, and shared in His joy. People found joy in delivering flyers, creating a nice atmosphere, greeting people at the door, preparing and serving desserts, filling coffee carafes, singing, playing music, mixing sound, setting up tables, taking down tables, vacuuming the carpet, scrubbing out stains, setting up chairs…

As for me, my greatest joy on that night was to deliver a message of the good news of Jesus Christ, and to see an amazing number of people indicate that they received the Lord Jesus right there.

So my Christmas wish for you this year is that you would stay out of the Vortex, miss the Meltdown, but catch the Joy of the Lord by serving others for His sake. It’s a great way to face Christmas.

May the Lord bless you,

Rob (www.weccwinnipeg.ca)

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Let’s not catch this.

December 10, 2009 Leave a comment

It’s a serious disorder. All over the world, many Christians suffer from it. It drains the power out of their Christian walk, chokes the spiritual fruit from their lives, robs them of purpose, and even causes some to shipwreck their faith. What is this terrifying blight – this real threat to our abundant life in Christ? Spiritual instability.

The symptoms of spiritual instability are numerous – wide spiritual mood swings, a loss of appetite for truth, low resistance to sin, spiritual lethargy, an allergic reaction to meaningful fellowship, restlessness, moral confusion, and tragically, a form of spiritual dementia that lashes out at those who care for them the most.

This is no isolated problem. In some ways, spiritual instability has gone pandemic – especially in our North American society, which sells selfishness, unhealthy independence and instant gratification to a brainwashed consumer culture. Unfortunately, all this has been sneezed on the Church, with disastrous results.

As followers of Jesus are infected with various strains of worldliness, their spiritual balance is affected, causing them to become disoriented and prone to stumble and fall away, sometimes taking others down with them. The resulting spiritual instability in its members has weakened the Church, and we find the Body of Christ suffering from a kind of low-grade fever, a sense of chronic spiritual fatigue that affects its muscles and joints, touching every aspect of its life. A Church suffering from spiritual instability in its parts becomes aimless, lethargic, anaemic in its resources, and relationally transient. Basically, it begins to fall apart.

In September of this year at FireLight, we felt that the Lord gave us a word of warning about spiritual instability, and an encouragement to actively work against this disease by being intentional about our life in Christ, bucking the world’s commitment to being noncommittal and decisively embracing the fact that we are disciples of Jesus in fellowship together. As we have begun to really look into how we can battle against worldliness, we have found that there is much we can do to cooperate with the promotion of spiritual stability in our individual lives, and consequently, in the life of the Church. For example, we can prevent spiritual disorientation by employing our GPS (God’s Positioning System), otherwise known as the BIBLE. In a world that has lost its way, the Word of God is extremely useful in helping us to get a true sense of where we are at, and who we are. In fact, spiritual stability is impossible to achieve without the regular use of this life-saving GPS. In addition to this, one of the most effective elixirs against worry, which leads to spiritual instability, is TRUST. Settling our trust issue with God – simply deciding that we believe Him when He says that He is there and He is good (not to mention all of His other wonderful promises) – brings a peace which passes all understanding. And that peace gives us a firm foundation to live on. The result is spiritual stability. Then there’s remembrance, belonging, investment, sincerity, and a host of other spiritual instability-busters that we will be examining together at FireLight over the next while.

Are you tired of being sneezed on by the world? Are you interested in prevention or recovery from spiritual instability? You’re invited to join us at FireLight as we seek the Lord together on this.

“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” – Eph 4:14-15

 May the Lord bless you,

Rob (www.weccwinnipeg.ca)