Everybody Gets a Chance

Whenever we read the Christmas story, most of us put ourselves in the story somewhere.  Perhaps we see shepherds or maybe even the wise men (ok, let’s not pick this one).

We could choose Zechariah, Elizabeth, Joseph or even Mary.  Some may see themselves as the innkeeper, although he’s never mentioned in the story.

But none of us would choose to be Herod.  Although, given a different setting, at the very least, we would admire him.  Think about it.

Herod was politically savvy.  He could walk the tight rope between the Romans and the Jews.  Or, when expedient, he could play them against each other.

He was ruthless in business. He amassed a great deal of wealth. He was the captain of his own fate, the master of his own soul.  Does this sound like anyone we know?

Sure it does. Go to any self-help section in any book store and you’ll see book after book about how to become King Herod yourself.

But none of us would dare claim to be Herod.  He was evil.

Yes, he was. And that’s my point.

None of us can imagine how dark a person’s soul has to be to do some of the things Herod did. It’s true and it’s what makes this part of the story so unbelievable.

Think about it.  The wise men came to him and told him they are looking for the “One born King.”  Herod knew the Jewish Bible.  He knew what the prophets had said.

All Herod had to do was drop his crown, follow the wise men to Jesus, and bow down in worship. But he didn’t.  He couldn’t.

We all know why. The crown was too precious; the power too addicting; his position too self-defining.

Herod missed his chance.

This Christmas, wise men and women will tell you to come with them to find the Christ child. . . will you go? Or will you hold onto the crown of your own life, counting it more precious than Jesus?

The Overlooked Lesson of Charity during the Holidays

Most of us—either as individuals, or families—get involved in some kind of charity work during the Christmas season.

We take goodies to senior adults, we pack Christmas baskets for hungry families and we give a little bit extra to our favorite ministries or non-profits.

Everybody in the non-profit world (churches included) understands December is the month when people are most generous.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  This is a very good thing-as far as it goes, which, of course, is the problem.  Our holiday charity simply doesn’t go far enough.

The widow your family visited is lonely the rest of the year as well.

The hungry family, who got the turkey and presents for the kids, is hungry the rest of the year, too.

The homeless shelter you gave a little extra too has budget needs all year long.

I’m glad you and your family are doing something for Christmas.

I just want you to let it be the first of many things you’re going to do in the coming year and not the one and only thing you did this year.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

In Ephesians 6, Paul tells fathers not to frustrate their children.

I’ve always been frustrated by this teaching. It’s as if Paul couldn’t think of anything positive to say to fathers, so he ends up writing, “Hey, dads…just don’t mess your kids up…”

As I’ve thought about it, I’ve come to a different understanding of this passage – working at Kairos has brought me to see an interesting interpretation of this verse.

A lot of young adults have a problem believing in God because their dads were such poor fathers. When I teach, “God loves you like a father,” many young adults shut down. Their experiences with their fathers were so bad, they just can’t go there.

So, here’s how I’ve come to interpret that verse, “Fathers, don’t make it hard for your children to believe in God.”

And I’m grateful every day that my dad didn’t make it hard for me to believe in God. In fact, he made it very easy.

JohnGlenn

I learned to love Scripture watching my dad study to teach his Sunday School class.

I learned to tithe watching him handle his money.

I learned about marriage from watching from my dad love my mom.

I learned to love Jesus watching him love Jesus.

No, my dad wasn’t perfect, but he loved me the best way he knew how…and you know, that’s all right.

Today would have been my dad’s birthday. He would have been 80.

He passed away in April of 2012. I’ve missed him every day.

But he left me a life time of memories.

He left me a legacy of what a good dad looks like …  a legacy that I am, as a dad myself, trying now to pass on to my sons.

Getting Started with Tithing

Whenever I talk about tithing, people get nervous and uncomfortable. One reason for our discomfort is that few things reveal the truth of our character the way our money does. But that’s another blog for another day.

I want to talk to those people who want to give something, but don’t know how. So, let’s talk about how to get started.

First, the basics—God owns everything. God made everything—therefore, He owns everything.

Second, our God is good, faithful and generous. Tithing is how we give thanks and praise for both of these realities.

We give the first fruits to God—celebrating the success He has granted us and second, declaring our confidence that God will meet all of our needs.  Giving is a significant part of worship.

But how do you get there?

I grew up tithing . I learned about it with my very first allowance.  If you didn’t grow up with tithing, you just aren’t able to see how you can pull 10% out of your cash flow and survive.

Don’t worry about how much or what percentage you’re giving. Just start giving.

Get your budget out, go over expenses, talk it over as a family. How much will your faith let you give?

It can either be a set amount or a small percentage. It doesn’t matter.  Just start.

Remember, Jesus is a teacher, and a good teacher delights in having an eager student. Jesus wants to teach you about who He is and about how He works, and He wants you to learn. While the subject may be tithing, you’ll learn a lot more in the process—such as the generosity of God, what matters and what doesn’t, and how God’s blessings won’t be limited to things money can buy. After all, the most important things in life are things that money can’t buy.

Usually, tithing is the first lesson of faith.

How will you get to the second lesson of faith if you don’t ever learn the first lesson?

So, what are you waiting for? Get started. I don’t care how much.  I don’t care how often.

If you’re sincere in your effort, Jesus will teach you how to give.