2007-11-30 0 comments

Absolutely must see

So I'm late to the game on this video. Sue me.

(But, seriously, you must watch it ... if you're a prodigal like me, it's hard to contain emotion. I watched this for the first time at work. Bad idea. I was weeping like a five-year-old girl who's just been told Santa Claus isn't real.)

This Jesus? He's real.

2007-11-29 0 comments

Happy Holidays?

"Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves."
(Philippians 2:3, ESV)

Humility is a wonderful thing — so long as it's not during the Christmas season. Then, it seems, all bets are off for most Christians.

Hey, I've been guilty. A few years back, there was this uproar that employees of the mega-retailer Target were told they weren't to say "Merry Christmas," instead using the more politically palatable "Happy Holidays."

I, being a good American Christian, joined in that heavenly chorus, shaking my head at this godless nation that so casually casts aside those traditions we hold most dear. Sigh ... it was another example of how we are the only socio-cultural group against whom it is acceptable to discriminate.

And every year hence it's the same ol' story ... Christians complain about how no one says "Merry Christmas" anymore.

As much as I hate to put posts like this one up — and I've done it a lot, I'm afraid, no doubt giving more credence to the thought among some who assume I'm a wolf in sheep's clothing — I'm no longer in agreement with the "Happy Holidays" uproar.

Why? Because of scripture, naturally. I can't find in the Bible anywhere that says we should rail against anyone who dares recognize this time of year as anything other than a celebration of the birth of Christ. What I do find, repeatedly, is the importance of humility.

It's one of the most biblical of virtues — in my English Standard Version, there are 10 mentions of humility; choose the word "humble" and that number grows to a whopping 73 mentions — yet one of the least important character traits in modern culture.

And, sadly, Christians are among the worst at exhibiting a lack of humility. Indeed, these days it seems believing in Jesus is less about loving, serving and worshiping Him and more about telling people they are wrong and being on the winning team.

Ask yourself this question: why does it bother you so much that others insist on saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas?" Is it because you insist on being "right," or is it because you truly feel compassion for those who don't know Jesus? If your true motivation is anything less than bringing nonBelievers into a relationship with Him, then it stands on sandy soil.

Might I submit to you that telling your barista at Starbucks to put the Christ back in Christmas is not only something he or she can't do — what, you want them to lose their job or, at the very least, get in trouble for defying corporate policy? That'll endear them to the Christian message — but it's not the best way to introduce them to who Jesus is and why we believe in Him.

Again, I see this as an issue in humility. Scripture teaches us to consider others as better than ourselves – unless, of course, we're defending our notions of Jesus' birth. Then, we're free to be obnoxious in our steadfast denial that this time of year has anything to do with anything else. And that begs the question: how come you never hear Jews complaining about "Happy Holidays?"

(Oh, and as an aside ... do you really think Jesus wants — or needs — humans to defend the celebration of His birth?)

Look, I'm not saying to jump on the PC bandwagon and pass around "Season's Greetings" platitudes at the mall. Say Merry Christmas until your little heart's content and your face is blue. It's what I do. For me — and for the rest of the world, too — Jesus IS the reason for the season.

But do we have to be so bull-headed about it? Can't we embrace humility and extend a hand of peace to our friends who just don't know who Jesus is? Can't we find some common ground upon which to stand before we start telling them the Truth?

Truth is not relative, nor is spirituality a pluralistic enterprise no matter what post-modern philosophy or the PC police say. I believe in Jesus because I've found in Him the end of my search for Truth. The last thing I want to do is beat others over the head with my Nativity Scene just because they haven't gotten there yet.

(Agree? Disagree? Let me know, please.)

(copyright andrew j. beckner, 2007. all rights under copyright reserved worldwide. for reprinting information, e-mail to Ephesians514@gmail.com.)

2007-11-20 0 comments

Quality time ... and more

" ... the perfection of beauty, God shines forth."

The Lord allowed my wife and I to get out of town this weekend and just spend time alone together -- and He threw in this sunshine, too, just as a bonus.

What a cool God ...

(more pics on the way, just 'cause I feel like gloating about spending three days in 80-degree weather, near the beach and with a beautiful woman.)

2007-11-15 0 comments

What a cool piece of scripture

"Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you."
(Hosea 10:12)
2007-11-11 0 comments

for week ending Nov. 11 ...

Life's been a little hectic lately, and the blog has suffered for it.

Used to be I could chart how close Jesus and I are by how faithful I was with the blog. I'm happy to say, then, that my lack of productivity here isn't related to my Christian walk. Heck, I'm pretty on fire these days.

The result is that He's putting some things in my path that's taking up a lot of my time. Now, don't get me wrong. These latest developments are very, very exciting and God is doing some amazing things, but when you combine it with craziness at the office, two kids in diapers, planning for the holidays and getting ready for a long weekend trip to Florida ... well, let's just say it requires a deep breath and some prioritizing.

I am working on something that came up while I was studying a week or so ago. I'm looking forward to typing that up and, hopefully, getting some feedback if anyone out there finds it interesting. I hope you will. If you're interested, read this very strange, very interesting story found in Genesis.

And, if you will, stay tuned.

Now, on to the news (and links) of the week ...

For some reason, this issue makes Christians nervous. Come on, this isn't abortion we're talking about.

Being environmentally conscious doesn't hurt anything. If we are indeed negatively impacting our world, then owning a car with good gas mileage, using "green" lightbulbs and recycling our paper, plastic and aluminum products is making a positive change in our world ... and isn't that part of what we're called to do?

And what if Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio and the rest of the greenies are wrong? What harm does it do to be environmentally concious anyway? By conserving energy, maybe we aren't saving the world. But at least we're extending an olive branch to society and culture and letting them know that because we care about them, we care about those things they hold dear.

Again -- and I know I harp about this a lot, so forgive the broken record -- but it's about engaging our culture. No, not synchrotizing scripture with cultural values regardless of their morality ... that's not what I'm talking about. Scripture is still soverign, Jesus is still savior and the only way to truth is through Him. But we can still sit down across the table with people who have core values different from ours and engage in meaningful dialogue and, yes, even learn from them. If we do that, it gives us a credibility in culture that the church hasn't had for decades.

If our society sees us making an effort to understand it, then chances are it will make an effort to understand us. And when that happens, Truth wins out. It always does ... and the cool thing is that we know The Truth.

You mean recycling and driving a Prius can do all that? Hey, maybe it can.

This is a super, super ministry.
Here's how it works: you get a catalog that sells such things as "Water Buffalo for Community" and "Bicycle for Church Planter." You pick what you want, buy it, and it is then donated to a needy family/village/church planter in whatever Third World country you specify. Go to the website and get you a catalog.
A goat for a poor, rural Pakistani family is $75. A start-up training program for a woman in India to open her own business is $100. Three pre-natal visits for a Sengalese woman, tetanus shots for her and her baby and post-birth doctor's care for both is $37. You can buy Bibles for kids in China, India and Mali for $29.
Church planting among "emerging" generation Christians is hip ... here's some good insight on the movement (and a cautionary tale.)
Briefly ...
* To those of you in the Kanawha Valley, West Charleston Baptist Church is taking a group to New York City during the week of Thanksgiving, and they are looking for donations to take to the homeless there. They need winter hats, scarves, gloves and, especially, socks. If you can help, e-mail Pastor Norm Cannada at normcannada@suddenlink.net.
* To those of you in the Kanawha Valley Emmaus Community, I'm looking for people interested in helping out with the recently re-instated Chrysalis Community. If you are, drop me an e-mail to either my personal e-mail if you have it or to my Blogger account at Ephesians514@gmail.com, and let me know specifically how you are interested in serving.
"'For I know the thoughts I think toward you,' says the LORD, 'thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you future and a hope.'" (Jeremiah 29:11, NKJV)
2007-11-08 0 comments

Jesus by the roadside

Just a little picture I snapped while out and about recently.

(But since when did Jesus start wearing lipstick?)
2007-11-07 0 comments

A quote I wish was mine

"I am a kite, and Jesus is a hurricane. It would
be ridiculous of me to boast that I can fly."

2007-11-06 0 comments
Jesus is the best therapist I know. Like all good shrinks, He lets me make my own breakthroughs — with just enough prodding that I understand exactly what He wants me to understand.