Saturday, December 25, 1999

Jesus is the Reason for the Season

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

I was at an account this past week and I overheard a couple people talking about Christmas. It seemed like a pleasant conversation at first, but then it turned disrespectful. One guy in the group started to rip on Christianity and in a very condescending tone stated, "What's the big deal about Christmas? It's just about gifts anyway!"

I wanted to jump into the conversation, and tell him all about the true meaning of Christmas. I wanted to tell him that Christmas isn't about the presents. It's about a man who humbled himself to reunite the two things that meant most to Him: His heavenly Father and all of mankind. It's about a man who was born to die and be the perfect and final sacrifice. It's about a man who forever lives to intercede for the people He loves.

I decided to keep my words to myself as my anger with his attitude was too great. I offered up a prayer instead, and before too long I began to agree with the very man who had spurred my wrath just minutes before. I realized that he was right; Christmas is all about the gifts - it's about the greatest gift that mankind has ever given or received.

May God bless you all this Christmas. May we always remember the man for whom we celebrate this day and the reason why He came. I pray that someday the man at this account will too.

Wednesday, December 15, 1999

A Story of Suffering & Perseverance

We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3-4)

I read a story in the paper this morning that touched my heart. It was a story about suffering, perseverance, character, and hope. It told of a 36 year-old woman who in the span of the past 5 months has watched her life crumble around her. In July, she received the news she had waited 5 years to hear: she and her husband would finally be parents. But soon after hearing the news she became terribly ill. Her body swelled, and she gained nearly 80 pounds of fluids. She had surgery to reduce the swelling, but unfortunately, she lost the twins she was carrying inside her. She returned to the hospital a few days later only to hear even more bad news: the muscles in her arms and legs had died. The doctors would be forced to amputate or she would die.

Before and after photos showed the depths of the tragedy: a smiling, happy woman living in a new home with twins on the way versus a pain-stricken, broken woman surrounded by her family in a hospital bed. But despite all the sufferings, and despite what future struggles certainly lie ahead, her spirit has not been broken:

  • "We ask her if she still wants to live, says her sister, whose eyes drift from the woman in the bed to the photos on the wall. She nods her head. My sister wants to live."

Over five months, she has experienced more pain and suffering than one person should ever have to bear. Remarkably, her spirit, perseverance, and hope live on. I pray they never die.

Sunday, December 5, 1999

Christ: The Humble King

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. (1 Timothy 1:15-16)

Dee and I were shopping at Menlo Park Mall on Saturday, and decided to stop into the Mets Clubhouse store to check out the new gear. To our surprise, a starting pitcher on the NY Mets was but 5 feet away from us. As a teenager, this would have been my shining moment. I can think back to my Little League banquets and remember being in awe of the Mets player that came out to speak that season. I couldn't wait to finish dinner so I could hang on each word my worshipped Mets player would utter. But now, those feelings of awe and worship are gone. Standing in my presence was the proud owner of a couple World Series rings and the ace of my favorite team's staff, and it meant nothing. All my eyes could focus on were the sunglasses worn proudly on his face (indoors), and the unapproachable airs he seemed to exude.

Throughout the day, I could not shake the smug image from my mind and it made me contrast his image with Christ. I pictured Christ being in that same store. There would have been no sunglasses. There would have been no expensive rings on his hand. There would have been no air of smugness or arrogance. Thankfully, the Lord I serve came into the world not to sign autographs but to save sinners just like me. He came showing mercy. He came displaying unlimited patience. He came to yield eternal life to those who might believe on His name.

I look forward to the day when I will be in the presence of the one true king; a man who could have worn the finest sunglasses and most expensive rings, but wore instead a crown of thorns and endured the pain of the cross to save the people he loved.