Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Humor in Christianity

If you grew up in church or go to church now, you may notice that most of the portraits of Jesus are either serious, humble, painful, or just plain sad. In fact, these are the kinds of images of Jesus we see more than 90% of the time whether it's in church, on TV, online, or anywhere else.

I'm not saying that Jesus wasn't a serious person. He was humble to his Heavenly Father, prayed very sincerely and whole-heartedly, went through a lot of pain and suffering to save us from sin, and was very serious about God's Will and Purpose for him on this Earth in human flesh. That is why we do see the many serious, sad and painful pictures of him.

But Jesus was also a very joyful and pleasant person! 

Being a Christian isn't about fun and games, but it isn't merely serious and orthodox either. Take advantage of the freedom we have to express our faith in many different ways...including humor!

Looking for some good Christian humor? 
Keep reading!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Devotional: Are Hardships also "Good" Ships?

Each and every one of us go through very difficult times in life. That's a given. If you didn't have ups and downs, you would be dead (according to the picture).

But knowing that life is supposed to be full of ups and downs doesn't make it any easier to cope with difficult times....

Whether it's the loss of a loved one, getting fired from a job, financial stress, depression, loneliness, health issues, divorce, or anything else you may be going through, there are 5 things you should meditate on when hardships strike:

1) God is in control.
    • "Thank you, God, for unanswered prayers, broken hearts, and unexpected turns in life...for I now realize the importance and depth of putting my complete trust in your unfailing and ultimate plan for my life. I know I will be able to look back on these difficult times and see that you had the perfect plan for me all along and that better things are always yet to come for those who love you. Your will be done, not mine. Thank you, God, for everything..."   -Anonymous

2) Change your attitude and perspective on the situation.

3) The best is yet to come.

4) No matter how bad your situation may be, somebody (somewhere) will always be in a WORSE situation than you.

5) God has 3 answers to your prayers:

The Devotional Part:

So why are Hardships also "Good Ships?" 

The typical (yet true) answer to this question is: Hardships make you stronger, wiser, prepare you for future hardships, change your perspective on life, and give you the ability to help others cope with similar difficult times.

But hardships do more than that...

They make you realize your need for God and turn to Him for guidance and comfort. They help you to realize that GOD is in control of your life, has a plan for your life, and wants you to put your full trust in HIS plan...instead of you trying to be the one in control of your life. He is the only one who sees what is yet to come and He knows what you must go through in order to get you where He wants you

Some have "harder" ships because they have fallen further from where they need to be and have a bigger U-Turn to take in order to get off the bumpy road heading further South. Some reject the unexpected turn God is trying to take them on and instead, try to be the one in control of the steering wheel of their life. They want to go down the path they think is right, but that God knows will just lead them to more destruction. And they wonder why God keeps allowing more hardships to come in their life? He is trying to get their attention...and some need more "attention grabbers" than others. Some need more caution and construction "signs" that are attempting to delay their path to further destruction or to warn them from getting in a horrible "wreck" down the road (a.k.a. hitting rock bottom).

Put your full trust in God and remember that your hardships are good ships, because God has a beautiful and wonderful plan for your life and He is always faithful. His plan never fails and if you try to steer the wheel in a different direction, He will throw some "attention grabbers" in order to get your life back on the track He wants you on. His plan will always succeed, but if you don't allow Him to control every part of your life or trust that He will fulfill His Will (not yours), then God will have to put you on a detour (which may be a bumpier road then you were hoping for), which will still finish at the place God wanted you to be all along....it'll just take you longer to get there, and probably more of a pain. Trust in God with every part of your life and he will direct your path and make it straight.

  • You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail. -Proverbs 19:21

  • More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. -Romans 5:3-5

  • "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." -Isaiah 55:8-9

  • The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you."-Psalm 32:8

  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do and He will show you which path to take. -Proverbs 3:5-6

  • For the Lord grants wisdom. From His mouth comes knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to Him. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go. -Proverbs 2:6-9

  • "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you," declares the Lord. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in Him. 
  • -Psalm 32:8-10

  • Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:6-7

Monday, November 19, 2012

13 Ways to Keep CHRIST in Christmas

1) Give a gift to God this Christmas.

Don't you think He deserves one, too?

Give the gift of something personal that nobody else needs to know about. It can be a bad habit, a sinful desire, something you have been putting more of your time, effort, and heart into before God (idolatry), forgiving someone, or even sacrificing more time each day to spend with Him.

2) Give more gifts of service to others.

Whether it's family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, or strangers, doing good deeds for those around you is one of the best ways to live out your faith, gratitude, and love this Christmas.

Spend time with them. Be helpful. Offer to clean the dishes after dinner. Be genuinely interested in their lives and getting to know them better. Share the love of Jesus Christ with them.

3) Be extra thankful and humble, especially Christmas day.

Always remember that Christmas is not about the presents. It's about the act of giving, love, kindness, gratitude, family, hope, and most importantly, the birth of Jesus Christ.

Show your family and friends how thankful you are for what they gave you, whether the gift was big or small, expensive or homemade. Be thankful for what you already have and grateful for anything you receive on Christmas day. Many people, even in America, do not have the luxury of getting Christmas gifts due to poverty or crisis.

4) Give a "Blessings Bag" to the homeless.

Giving to the poor or homeless never required giving money. Give them a bag of love and hope, in Jesus' name.

Click here to see what items to put in the bag.

5) "Adopt an Angel" from the Salvation Army Angel Tree.

Pick a boy or girl angel off the tree of any age and buy the present they have wished for. Their parent's cannot afford buying Christmas gifts for them, therefore Salvation Army stepped in to help by hosting the Angel Tree Christmas campaign.

Find one at a local mall near you, or there may be areas in your hometown (such as grocery store, bank, chamber of commerce, etc) that is hosting a tree for local kids in your area.

Click here to find malls near you that are hosting an Angel Tree.

6) Have a birthday cake for Jesus!

It is his birthday, after all. He deserves a cake that celebrates His precious birth. It serves not only as a delicious cake to eat during Christmas time, but also serves as a REMINDER that Christmas is HIS birthday, not about Santa and getting a lot of presents.

Sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus, or listen to this special song as you cut the cake: click here.

7) Attend Christmas Eve service (and Christmas Day service if applicable).

Christmas Eve service is usually a candlelight service held in the evening that focuses on Jesus with hymns of praise. There is usually not a sermon, but is filled with Christmas songs, scripture readings, and prayer.

8) Attend a Christmas play at a local church or theatre. 

I'm not talking about "The Nutcracker."

Find a local church or theatre that will be conducting a Christmas play that focuses on the nativity story and birth of Jesus. These are usually done very well and really bring forth a joyful Christmas spirit.

I highly recommend your family getting tickets and/or attending these plays if available. Invite lost neighbors and friends...they will really enjoy it and hear a great message.

9) Volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.

Jesus loved and cared for the needy, poor, homeless, and broken. He wants us all to do the same for them, too.

Care for and serve others in need this winter, and do it in Jesus' name. Do it for Him, not to show off to everyone that you are doing a charitable service, because God sees the intentions of your heart and despises boastful attitudes and wrong intentions.

10) Read the Nativity Story from the Bible on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve.

This is a tradition in my extended family to read this story before we exchange gifts.

If you have small children, waking up Christmas morning is always exciting and joyful, so read the story after the gifts to remind them what Christmas is really all about and that presents are symbols of a generous, loving, and giving heart, just as Jesus has done for us.

11) Set up a Nativity Scene in your home. 

Whether it's a large display in your front yard or a small display in the entryway of your home, doing this reminds everyone of the birth of Jesus every time they see it.

12) Donate canned goods to the local food drive. 

Go into your pantry and gather up canned goods and non-perishable items to donate to your local food drive or homeless shelter. Do this with a cheerful and generous heart, in Jesus' name.

13) Say "Merry Christmas!"
Today, many shops and advertisements are saying "Happy Holidays" to keep non-Christians or other religions from getting "offended"......well, it offends us when they don't say "Merry Christmas!"

Sadly, it is hard to find stores and commercials that say "Merry Christmas" these days, so it is our job as Christians to reinforce "Merry Christmas" without shame or fear of what others think.

Next time a cashier or someone you meet says "Happy Holidays" to you, say "Merry Christmas" back.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Prayer at Dinner

Prayer should always come from the heart, 
for God can see your motives and know when it's 
sincere prayer or if you are just going through the motions.

But it's hard for many of us to pray for a group in public
or be the one picked to pray at the dinner table
with your family/friends.

Like myself, 
it's hard to be sincere about your prayer 
because you are focused on the "right" words to say 
or focused on what other people will think about your prayer.

How can we prevent this? 
How can we give a sincere prayer that isn't just
"God is good, God is great, thank you for this food, Amen."?

Typical, right?

Here's how:
  1. Write out a prayer you want to say at dinner or in front of a large group, and memorize it. 
    • WHY? Memorizing your prayer doesn't mean it isn't sincere. It actually helps you to remember the prayer you wrote without having to focus on coming up with new words, which enables you to focus more on the meaning of the words you are saying to God and for those around you to hear. 
    • REMEMBER: You aren't praying to those around you, you are praying to GOD. If they have a problem with your prayer not being "good enough" or sounding right, then their motives are wrong when praying and are not focusing on God during your prayer. 
  2. Here's an example:
    • Dear God...Father....Creator....you created me. You created everyone here at this table today. We are YOURS. You created each and every one of us, as well as each ingredient that was put together to make this food we are about to eat. Please help us to honor and glorify you with our lives, as our lives only exist because of you. Thank you Father for the health, safety, and freedom we are privileged to have today. Please continue to watch over us and help us to remember you in all we do. Thank you for sending your son to die on the cross for our sins. Bless this food and the hands that have prepared it. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

10 Commandments: Hillbilly Style

Make sure ya know yer 10 commandments!

and if you didn't know the regular 10 commandments:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

True Meaning of Christmas (in pictures)

Christmas is not far away...

But December is not the only month we should 
remember to do these things!

Prepare your hearts and minds to:

give with a generous heart,
love thy neighbor as yourself,
be quick to forgive,
slow to get angry,
and glorify God in all your
and words.

Christmas is not just about giving and receiving presents.
Christmas is not the only time we should give to others.
Christmas is not the only time we should spread joy and be nice to each other.
Christmas and Easter are not the only times we should 
celebrate the birth of Jesus and what he did for us.
Christmas and Easter are days we STOP our normal schedules (work, school, errands, etc.) and be thankful for the birth and death of Jesus.

But it was never meant to STOP there....
We should ALWAYS take time out of our day to STOP 
and thank God for all He has done for us.

In Heaven, we are constantly praising God in peace, joy, happiness and awe of Him. God wants us to praise Him more than twice a year. God wants us to serve Him (by serving others in His name) more than twice a year. God wants a relationship with each of us every day of the year, and through that, we praise Him always and glorify Him in all our ways.

Remember these things this season, 
before and after Christmas time.

"Jesus is the Reason for the Season!"