I had a friend send me a poem as she has been thinking our family during this holiday season, the first without Kiley. I thought I'd post it here, wanting to share it with my family. The whole "holidays without Kiley" hasn't really hit me yet. I don't know if I'm just numb to it or if I'm just keeping myself so busy with the hopes that my mind won't have time to think about it. I'm sure it will hit when I am home on Thursday. But anyway, here's the poem:
"I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below. With tiny lights, like Heaven's stars, reflecting on the snow. The sight is so spectacular, please wipe away that tear; For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear. But the sounds of music can't compare with the Christmas choir up here. I have no words to tell you the joy their voices bring. For it is beyond description to hear the angels sing.
I know how much you miss me, I see the pain inside your heart. But I am not so far away, we really aren't apart. I cannot tell you of the splendor or the peace inside this place Can you imagine Christmas with our Savior, face to face?
I will ask him to light your spirit as I tell him of your love. So then pray for one another as you lift your eyes above. So be happy for me, dear ones, you know I hold you dear. And be glad I'm spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
I sent you each a special gift, from my heavenly home above. I sent you each a memory of my undying love. After all, love is a gift more precious than pure gold. It was always most important in the stories Jesus told.
Please love and keep each other, as my Father said to do. For I can't count the blessing or love he has for each of you. So have a Merry Christmas and wipe away that tear. Remember, I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year."
I watched the movie, "The Nativity Story" last night with my youth and I just want to encourage you to watch it if you haven't done so already. For one, it is a well done movie (not like cheap Bible movies with bad acting) but it does a great job of allowing you to look past the compressed story in Scripture and fill in a lot of gaps and look at reactions and emotions that were felt by the likes of Mary and Joseph and the people of Nazareth and Bethlehem. Don't get me wrong, its not perfect, there are some Biblical inaccurate stuff in the movie because it follows much of the biblically inaccurate "Christmas story," but it is very well done in my non-professional opinion.
This Christmas season, sit down with your friends and family and watch "The Nativity Story," then discuss different aspects, emotions, and reactions; as well as ways that it is both biblically accurate and inaccurate. You can rent it at Blockbuster for like a buck.
Throughout my life, I have always been taught to never judge. To leave "judging" up to God. This statement has always been accompanied with Matthew 7:5 - "You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." Thats just it though, remove the log from our eye so that we can remove the speck from somebody else.
Often times, Christians get defensive when you point out sin in their life saying "Don't judge me" and quoting Matthew 7:5, but who am I to judge? According to Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:11-13, We, Christ followers, are to judge... as long as we are first examining and eliminating sin from our own lives. "But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. 'Expel the wicked man from among you.'"
Paul is pretty blunt in his statement. Believers are not to judge those outside the church, that is to be left to God, but "anyone who calls himself a brother" should be held accountable by his/her fellow believers. We are to "Expel the wicked man from among you" by either removing the wickedness in the man or removing the man.
The church has become so stagnant because of trying to be politically correct and not judging people that it makes me sick. We allow sin among believers so much to the point that it comes across as approving of that lifestyle. It absolutely makes me sick. I believe in loving all and being open to all as a church, but when somebody calls themself a brother or sister in Christ, life-change should happen and we should be the first to encourage it. Paul says so himself.
I was at a Christian camp this past summer and was in a small group with a couple of self-proclaimed believers that were gay/lesbian. One day in our small group, they asked the question if homosexuals could get into heaven. (I believe that homsexuality is a sin and cannot keep you out of heaven just like any other sin cannot keep you out of heaven.) But the other students responded to the degree that they felt there was nothing wrong with homosexuality. And the students that did have a problem with it didn't say anything. Now these students are, more than anything, mirroring the attitudes and responses that they have seen in adults toward similar issues.
My problem is that how can the church expect its congregation to leave sinful lifestyles if we do not act against them. If we only act like there is nothing wrong with these sinful lifestyles, almost to the point that it comes across as approval, then are we ourselves guilty of sin? I challenge each and everyone one of you to first examine your own life and remove the log from your own eye, but then to push your brothers and sisters in Christ to overcome their own sin.
Ok, for starters "Son of a Pharisee" is my new cuss word. Some of you already heard me explain it, if you haven't it stems from an event at National Youth Workers Convention. If you need more explanation then let me know.
So today I went to Wal-Mart. I've been needing to go for groceries for about three weeks now and just haven't made time. Being my day off and getting desperate for food, I decided to go. Big mistake! I quickly realized why I have always gone to Wal-Mart after 9 PM. Parking lot...full, store...full, my patience...quickly ran out. Old people were everywhere! And old people seem to just stand around or move extra slow so that it feels like an obstacle course trying to get where you want to be. Needless to say, I will quickly return to my late night Wal-Mart trips when aisles are clear, lines are short, and old people are fast asleep at home.
I was reading this morning and came across another verse that I felt pointed toward the idea of apostasy, which is an abandoning of what one believed in, as a faith, political party, principles, etc, rather than the Calvinist (Baptist) view of "once saved always saved" or the Armenian (Methodist) view of being able to lose salvation. This post is really simply in addition to my previous post (which I wrote before ever knowing the word apostasy) which can be found here.
In Mark 13 Jesus is telling about the future to his disciples. About the wars and antichrist etc. In verse 13, he says this: "All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved." If Jesus says that "he who stands firm to the end will be saved" then it sounds to me that some will not stand firm to the end. Some will abandon or give up on their faith.