My Jeans Shrunk


Well, by now you are back out the door doing some of those normal activities of life – shopping, gassing up the vehicle, returning gifts you received and did not need or even want… You may be one of the lucky ones who has gone back to work. But, life is slowly returning to normal for a few days – before it all gets turned upside down again as the New Year break from routine tosses normal out the window once again.

This morning you got dressed as you always do and found that your jeans or dress slacks shrank in the laundry over the holidays. Come on now! How old is that routine – even I use to do that one. If your clothes are a little tighter than they were before the holiday break it most likely has nothing to do with the laundry but with what you ate and drank during the holiday break and the lack of serious motion as you sat, and sat, and sat some more. So, time to stop blaming the laundry machines and become seriously honest with yourself. Afterall, you were overweight before the holiday festivies began and all you have managed to do is ignore that fact and add to the problem during the Chriustmas festivities. It’s time to get serious and give yourself a good talking to -while you do some exercising?

Well, yes it really is time to take your physical health seriously. Even if you did not over eat during the Christmas holidays and so didn’t gain any weight … take a good look at yourself before you get dressed tomorow morning. In front of a mirror – full length if possible. Now, be honest! Are you in shape or out of shape? Does your body shape – glorify God? If someone looks at you does your shape and weight indicate a discipled and godly lifestyle? Be honest, now! And, does your inner skeleton – you know muscle and inner structure glorify God? And, don’t give me any of that beauty is only skin deep nonsense. Oh! Sorry, if you are spiritual your comeback could be “God does not look on the outside as man does but at the heart…” Oh! Give me a break.

Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. How’s the temple? You are given so many days to live on the earth and, if you are not careful, you will shorten those days by your lack of attention to your diet, your waist line and your weight as well as your lack of exercising the temple properly every day.

And, let me go where angels fear to tread … what do you think goes through a non-believer’s mind when they look at you professing to walk with Jesus when you can hardly walk and a brisk pace for 30 minutes would take you out of action for the next few hours or days? I mean, come on, we talk about the need to care for the widows and orphans and helping those less fortunate but stand there miles overweight having used some of the money we could have sent to help the poor and spread the Gospel on food we most certainly didn’t need to consume. And, believe me, non-believers don’t miss that fact!

So, it’s time to join Santa in a get healthy, take care of your body, repair the temple, wear the stuff at the back of the closet, dress in front of the mirror, go to the gym, get out and walk “party.” New Year’s is coming and its time to make those soon-to-be-forgotten resolutions … but this time we need to recognize that for any decision to last and not just be a passing thought without resulting in long-term action it needs to arise out of Holy Spirit conviction that our lifestyle is not glorify God. Following that conviction should be a good dose of godly sorrow, a time of repentance, receiving and knowing God’s forgiveness and cleansing power (1 John 1:9) and then a time to think through your action plan – diet changes, timetable adjustments, gym membership costs in the budget, time to find a good gym close enough to become part of your daily routine.

It is time for our walk and talk to line up. It is time that our temples represented well the Lord Jesus Christ and His message of salvation for the whole man – body, soul and spirit.

Stir Up Sunday

In traditional churches today is often called “Low Sunday.” It is called this because most churches experience their lowest attendance of the year on this Sunday each year.

It is the end of the year, everyone is tired from the activities of the days (weeks) leading up to Christmas, family events are still on-going and often set to happen on a Sunday (and the Christians remain quiet and let the non-believers determine the scheduling). For some it is just a down period when everything, including routine, stops for a week or two so they can catch their breath before jumping into another hectic year.

In one denominational church it was, many years ago, also called “stir up” Sunday because the prayer set out for that Sunday (called a Collect) started with the words “stir up, O Lord…” I like this nickname better as it appears to be more biblical. The Bible states that the gift of prophecy is given to us to edify (build up), exhort (stir up) and comfort (cheer up). (1 Corinthians 14:3). So, as we appraoch 2011 and a fresh new year to follow the Lord and do His will it would be a good time to stir ourselves up.

It would be a good time – during this semi-lull between Christmas and New Years – to have a look at the prophetic words you (and your church) have received over the past few years; especially the ones that have yet to be completed and portions of which still need to be prayed over and believed for (standing in faith). It is time, as Paul said to Timothy, to “not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.” It is time to remember what the Father has spoken over and into your life and review the words carefully to see what portions have yet to happen so that:

1> You can pray about these areas and come back into agreement with the Lord and His Word if you have wandered slightly off course during the past year. Stir up your prayer life and bring it into line with God’s Word and thus God’s will.

2> You can see what else you need to do to fulfill any stated conditions… Often we forget that the Lord said “if you do this then I will do that…” and so the Lord is waiting upon us to do our part and we have simply forgotten. Refresh your memory and stir up the needed action and attitude.

3> You can stir up your faith and begin again to believe God and release Him to work in your life – situation, circumstances, family, church and especially in your heart.

4> You can stir up the actually gifts that were imparted to you through the prophetic ministry. These supernatural gifts need to be released and you need to learn the skills needed to use them effectively and efficiently. Often these gifts lie dormant in a believer’s life because we don’t activate them and actively use them.

So, let’s take advantage of the slower week we are now entering, carve out some extra time with the Lord, find and dust off those unfulfilled prophetic words (or find the recording and type them out for the first time), and adjust both our thinking, and our believing to fit the powerful Words spoken over us.

And, while we are at it, let’s look forward and adjust our 2011 calendars to allow God a higher place on the priority list – setting daily time aside to be in His presence and find the needed refreshing and release that we will need as believers in this troubled and fast-changing world.

Christmas Eve And Nothing Is Stirring


‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

This is the first four lines of a famous poem by either Clement Clarke Moore or Henry Livingston (they are unable to determine the specific authorship).

The poem goes on to mention St. Nicholas, sugar-plums, reindeer, a sleigh full of toys, going down and back up chimneys … All well and great and it is a cute poem but it has nothing to do with Christmas and the message of the Kingdom that Jesus came to declare.

In Luke, Chapter two, we read: “…the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.'”

Please note that there is no mention of all the additional players we now have on the scene during the Christmas season. The focus is on the One – the one and only true God born as a man. The Savior, Christ the Lord. Not Santa, not St. Nick, not stockings and sugar-plums dancing, not chimneys and flying reindeer. One God, one Savior, one Lord, one who was born King (not a prince to become king). It is time for Christians to return to their first love and stop all the nonsense that we have become entrapped by because the world around us is “doing it.” It is time to take a good, hard look at how we celebrate the Christmas event (it’s not a season – it is an historical and spiritual event).

It is time that something was truly stirring once again. We need to stir up our love for the Lord. We need to stir up the call of God on our lives to seek and save the lost. We need to stir up the gifts that have been placed inside us when we were baptized in the Holy Spirit. We need to stir up the prophetic destiny that we have had spoken over our lives by apostles and prophets (as Paul writes to Timothy). It is time that something began to stir within us once again. It is time to stir up, rise up and live as true believers and stop doing what everyone else is doing… and start celebrating the true meaning of Christmas in a meaningful way. If “nothing is stirring” in your spiritual life – shame on you!

Talking about “nothing stirring” … This is not the case in God’s Kingdom. There is much stirring, adjusting, changing, and being added in this spiritual Kingdom to which we belong as born again believers. Much is happening and major adjustments are taking place. New things are being released and God is preparing for some major shifts in the way the Church is operating in the world today …. sizable shifts that will effect everyone who declares the Name of the Savior. Lots is stirring and no longer will anyone be permitted to simply sit, being still and as quiet as a church mouse.

Merry Christmas everyone. As you celebrate the birth of the Savior may it be a time when God births a new vision, new passion, a new focus in your heart and may you feel the Holy Spirit stirring up “divine discontent” with what is and a new hope for what is soon to come – the true Church of Jesus Christ, not built by man but built by the Lord and Savior whose birth we celebrate.

Christmas Is Cancelled This Year

Christmas is cancelled this year. It seems that it is based on rewards. This rewards system measures how good or how bad you have been during the year. Somehow, if your goodness outweighs your badness then you will receive what you asked for. Santa will deliver it to you on that special night called Christmas Eve. Regretfully this year Santa did some checking and nobody measured high enough on the goodness scale to warrent his taking out the reindeers on a cold winter night to deliver gifts as rewards. So, Christmas is cancelled this year.

Stupid isn’t it? Well, just as stupid as introducing Santa into the whole Christmas scene in the first place. And, all this nonsense about being good or bad and the gifts being a reward for coming out on the positive side of the goodness meter. Wow! And yet this is what is celebrated in household after household – Christian and non-Christian. And then we wonder why people have trouble with the real Christmas message about God giving us a gift – THE gift – His Son born as a human being. I don’t wonder why – it is simply the logical outcome of the way we, as born again believers, celebrate the birth of Christ – in almost the exact same way that non-believers do. Hypocritical? A negative witness? Plain stupid? You decide.

So, this being the case – that believers and non-believers celebrate the Christmas season in almost identical manners – and it is the situation as it stands today; what should believers do to change the impression we are giving about Christmas? I think we need to look closely at the way we are celebrating the birth of the Savior, God’s Son, and make some definite and maybe even drastic changes. It’s okay to celebrate His birth in the midst of the pagan celebration of whatever it is non-believers are celebrating … that is how Christmas ended up on December 25th in the first place. But it is not okay to be doing exactly what they are doing as they celebrate their gods and their fantacies.

So, what changes could be made?

1> We could spend more time in prayer and in fellowship with the Father during this special season – afterall, this is why Jesus came in the first place … so we could come to intimately know the Father.

2> We could actually attend worship with other believers (fondly known as going to church) more frequently than at other times of the year – not less frequently as is the case most of the time

3> We could give more to help the poor and spend less to feed our out-of-control appetites for more and more consumer goods and technological toys not to mention all the other things we buy but don’t really need

4> We could spend less and spend only cash and thus not incur any further debt celebrating the birth of Jesus who gave up His rights and the glory of Heaven to help others and to open the way into Heaven – selfless and not selfish

5> We could eat a lot less and not over indulge and thus fall into gluttony. This would also keep us from feeling guilty and from making New Year’s resolutions about exercise and weight which we know we will never keep and which lead only to more guilt

6> We would speak more often of our love for God the Father and Jesus His Son and tell others about His love – inviting them to come to the place where they could have their sins forgiven and know the assurance of His love – it’s called telling others the gospel or good news that Jesus saves and that this is what Christmas is really all about (evangelism)

7> We could tell others we love them in words, hugs, and by spending time with them instead of with gifts which mean little and took little thought, time or personal investment to purchase and give

That would be a good start I think! Why not make up your own list and see what you come up with. What changes would you make in your Christmas celebrations to bring them more into line with the way you believe a Christian should celebrate the birth of the Savior?

Boxing Day – A Day of Worship

Boxing Day is a holiday celebrated in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. It falls on December 26th, which is also St. Stephen’s Day.

St. Stephen was a little known saint who achieved eternal fame by being the first Christian to be martyred for his faith, and he met his death by stoning.

Boxing Day is so called because on this day it was the customary for tradesmen to collect their Christmas boxes or gifts in return for good service throughout the year. Also, it included giving money and other gifts to charitable institutions, and the needy.

The holiday may date from as early as the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is not known. It may have begun with the Lords and Ladies of England, who gave Christmas boxes/gifts to their servants on December 26, or maybe by priests, who opened the church’s alms (charity boxes), and distributed the contents to the poor and needy.

In some nations, this day has become part of the celebrations, of being with family. A day to visit other relations, and to have a rest from the day before, to play fun games. Some families, buy a new game each year, but still bring out the old favourites. For some it is good to have the 2 days off in a row, as on one of the days you can visit with your parents, and the other day your inlaws.

St Stephen is the patron saint of horses, so Boxing Day became associated with horse-racing and hunting. Other sports are also held on this day like football and rugby.

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day is the Christmas season for many in the nations that celebrate Christmas on the 25th and include Boxing Day events in their social and cultural calendars.

However, in some nations – especially here in North America – it has become a day of worship. People line up the night before (Christmas Day eve) and spend all night in line waiting for the doors of the “church” to open. This is real dedication to their beliefs because in some areas it can be a really cold night often below freezing, windy with blowing snow. It is often not a pleasant wait but the lines are long and many come to worship with friends and so the fellowship is often great and the long over-night hours pass quickly. Many “visions” are seen of the tremendous blessings that their god will bestow upon them in the early morning hours as the church building opens and they, as dedicated worshippers, can finally enter the sanctuary.

When the doors of the “church” do open in the morning there is often a mad rush to get into the building. Behavior is often regretfully non-Christian and unloving as they fight for the best location and the best position. They, of course, as good worshippers, have their wallets open and ready to make sizable offerings to their god. They are seldom disappointed as they usually get what they have come for and leave feeling satisfied and happy. Contentment and even total satisfaction are the immediate results of this worship experience although often these initial feelings fade fast and so they have to return often to make another offering – often with diminishing returns.

Meanwhile, across the city in many of the other churches the lights are out and the people are absent. In fact, it is not just on Decmeber 26th that this is true. Even on the 24th (Christmas Eve) and the 25th (Christmas Day) the lights in these other churches remain off and their followers are at home enjoying this special time of the year and a few days off of work and away from the daily routine. And, don’t tell anyone, but some are resting up so that they can manage the all night, all day celebrations being held at the other ‘churches’ on their special day as they worship the gods of mammon and consumerism. Afterall, their “God” offers them everything that is good and promises to meet all their needs and prosper them – blessing them with everything… so really the two worship ideologies are really not that different and unity is a good thing as unity “demands further blessings” from God.

Ah! We live in such a wonderfully spiritual society and culture and I simply love this time of year as it is so worshipful and spiritual.

A Celebration of What?

The images of Christmas are all around us – Santa in the shopping malls, decorated trees, houses covered in lights, people using their credit cards to purchase gifts, special festivals at schools (no longer called Christmas concerts), holiday plans for the week of Christmas when schools are out and day cares shut down, and radio stations playing Christmas music 24/7. Of course, none of this really relates to the original purpose or reason for that first Christmas in Bethlehem so many centuries ago.

As I sit here in my study in front of a warm fire in the wood stove that heats my office and study complex I think back a bit to my own childhood. Alright, more than a bit – more like ancient history. Back a half century when the center of the celebrations for Christmas was family not trips to warmer places or gifts of new technological gadgets that then absorb the rest of the day as you learn to play the game or use the electronic toy.

The focus was a special meal with the family all gathered and then the opening of the gifts – the majority of which were things that we needed and that we were excited to receive because we did need them. Often it was simply some new clothes, socks, underwear and a new set of pjs. Practical, functional, and purchased for cash – no credit cards and thus no increase in debt just to impress people or meet some social norm of today!

My how times have changed. And I don’t believe the change is for good. I believe that as born again believers we need to ask ourself what is it that we are really celebrating at this time of the year. Nevermind what society is doing, what the media is saying, what our friends at work are planning, or what the general trend is; what are WE really celebrating? And, does what we are planning to do with the time we have available really adequately express what we believe and hold dear in our hearts? Oh, more time with the family is good, larger family gatherings are healthy I am sure (except for the excessive eating), more time off from the hectic pace of our everyday work world is needed… but, do our plans really adequately express what we believe as born again Christians and are they focused in some way on celebrating what we believe?

Let me suggest that if you have less time for your daily devotionals; if you have less time focusing on worship and the assemblying of ourselves with other believers (it called – going to church); if we lose the rhythm and routine of daily prayer; if we are in constant motion preparing food, gifts, and the house and have lost the ‘be still and know that I am God’ part; then something is drastically wrong. Adjustments need to made after a quiet time of reflection so as to come back to the center and live life in line with your beliefs and not based on the expections of others and pleasures of society today.

Remember, we are born again believers and if we don’t focus on the real purpose and reason for Christmas and all the celebrating I am not sure who will. And, while I’m at it let me so bold as to suggest that one of our focuses at this time of the year (as it should be year-round) is to seek and save the lost. Afterall, that is why Jesus was born at Bethlehem – it was the start of His mission to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10) which He then mandated to the Church to fulfill in our own day and age.

Do people look at the way you are celebrating and know you are a believer and follower of Him who said, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men?”

The Miracles of Christmas

Jesus was born at Christmas – the Incarnation – a miracle because He is perfectly man and all of God in human form – a baby born of a virgin. The faith we believe in and proclaim worldwide is one that is filled with miracles and the supernatural – angels appearing and singing, angels bringing messages to various players in the Christmas story, warning of persecution and unplanned vacations in Egypt to protect the baby, wise men, shepherds, and stars that appear and guide.

Jesus, when He first began His ministry, also perfornmed miracles. He used the supernatural aspect of His ministry to attract crowds to whom He could then preach to about the Kingdom of God – which was, by His own words, the reason He came. As He did these miracles people came to believe in Him.

Examples of this found early in John’s Gospel …

John 2:11 This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.

John 2:23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing.

John 3:2 (in His conversation with Nicodemus) this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”

Of course, miracles and the supernatural were not limited to the beginning of His ministry. John’s gospel records 7 miracles or major signs that Jesus performed that proved He was who He said He was and which drew crowds – some of whom came to believe after hearing His message. There were other miracles and signs – other than the major seven that John records and points to – and as John mentions, the things Jesus did if they were all written down would fill the world with books (John 21:25).

For our faith to be contagious today we too need to walk in the supernatural and prove to people, as Jesus did, that the message is true and worthy of consideration. We are called to be His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) and so we represent a supernatural Kingdom and King and must be able to move in supernautral power as He did. This is the reason for the Baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8) where we received the power and the gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4-11) to walk in the supernatural and so be able to fully proclaim the Gospel.

Paul states: (1 Corinthians 2:4-5) …”and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”

He wrote in Romans (15:18-19) “For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.”

We can do nothing less or else we will not have fully proclaimed the Gospel and people will not even stop long enough to listen. The story of the first Christmas is brimming with miracles, signs and wonders and sets the norm for the faith that came from this supernatural event … Jesus, anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power (Acts 10:38) walked as a human being in the supernatural; so must we this Christmas and every day of every year.

Come and See

There is a wonderful story in the Bible that took place just as Jesus was beginning His public ministry in Galilee. One of those who had begun to follow Him – Philip – invites his friend Nathanael to travel with him and meet Jesus. In spite of Nathanael’s sarcastic answer Philip persists and says, “come and see” (John 1:46). In other words, “come and experience what I have experienced.”

This speaks volumes if we are going to become “fishers of men” as we are suppose to be as followers of Jesus (Matthew 4:19). We cannot invite someone to experience something or Someone that we have yet to encounter and experience ourselves. You cannot lead someone where you have not gone or are not going. So, to invite others to see and encounter the living God means you must first have an active and alive spiritual life that includes a daily encounter with the living Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior yourself. Nothing less will do.

For us to invite others to “come and see” we must be able to lead them to the Living Lord and not simply to a church or to a religion. We must have an active and dynamic personal relationship with Jesus ourselves.

In Matthew’s Gospel – chapter 28 – we read the words of the angelic messenger at the empty tomb on the first Easter Sunday – “come and see …go and tell.” (verses 6 and 7). This is the format for successful and biblical evangelism – come and see for yourself – go and tell others what you have seen. Jesus repeats the command to go after Mary meets Him in the garden – “Do not be afraid, go and tell…” (verse 10). This, of course, is the Great Commission given to the Church … “Go into all the world…” (Matthew 28:18-20).

So, as we prepare for the celebration of His birth at Christmas we must remember that the crib is connected to the cross and that the cross is connected to the crown. The birth of Christ (crib in the manger) is connected to His death on Good Friday (cross on Golgatha) and His resurrection and ascension (crown as King of His Kingdom)… and we need to have a personal experience of all of them before we can “go and tell” and effectively invite others to “come and see” for themselves.

During this season of celebration – reconnect with the Lord and then remember to go and tell your friends about Him – better still, invite them to “come and see” what you have just seen and experienced.

Light and Life

As I read through John’s Gospel, Chapter One ns preparation for my personal celebration of the birth of the Savior I am drawn to a familiar verse with new insights. I was sitting in a foreign nation preparing my heart for a day of ministry and looking forward to the coming season we are now entering. I was facing a day of teaching God’s Word and prophetic ministry to believers and leaders – and as I was spending some time with the Lord early in the morning before the other team members woke up the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart. It has stayed with me since and I will try to share a bit of what He showed me. Maybe it will spark an insight or two for you as well.

We think of Jesus as being The Light of the world. And, He is. But what is it that shines? What is it that is the “light?” What causes Him to be the light? John’s Gopel states (1:4) “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.” The focus in the first chapter is that Jesus who is the Light overcomes the spiritual darkness of the devil and his demons. But, let’s not miss what causes the Light to shine or what that external light is caused by – it is the very life of God in Jesus who is God. Jesus has within Him the very life (zoe) and nature of God as He is both perfect God and perfect man (the Incarnation – the basic Christmas message). This life flows from Him and touches others and is described as “light” because it can then be seen in His expressions of love and compassion and power. This is most obvious in His healing ministry when life flowed from Him and literally overcame the “oppression of the devil” (Acts 10:38). Life becoming light. But, it can actually be seen in all of His life and ministry. as well as in the Gospel message He preached and the fact that people delivered and set free from demons, sickness, religious bondage…

This “Life” was both physical life – as Jesus imparted this life to believers as His involvement as the agent of creation (God the Father planned the creation, Jesus created it…. John 1:3) but also refers to spiritual life that He imparts to those who believe in Him (as compared to spiritual death for those still in their sins – Romans 6:23) as well as eternal life which is a gift He gives to those who believe and which is defined in John 17:3 as a personal and intimate relationship with Him and the Father. This “life of God” was expressed by the living Word as He spoke words and became a “light” shining in the darkness.

So, when Jesus turns and speaks to His disciples and tells them that they are “a light in the world” and that they should not hide their light (Matthew 5:14) – He is referring to the fact that His followers should be allowing this spiritual life – Zoe – now in us (supernatural ability to walk with Him, hear His voice, and do what He did – John 10:10 and John 14:12) and eternal life (relationship with the supernatural God) to be seen regularly by those we come into contact with.

The first 14 verses of the Gospel of John were most likely a hymn of the early church. They remind us that Jesus is God’s Word (1:1), “word” being a Greek term that means a thought expressed. Jesus, then, is the human expression of God. He is light and flesh (1:4-5, 14). To see Jesus is to see God the Father, and to know Jesus personally is to experience God’s grace and truth. Then, as the light of the world (part of our calling as well) we are to witness publicly. The Gospel must be communicated by what we say and how we live. Just as Jesus became flesh and “dwelt among us,” so we are to “flesh out” the good news about Christ in our everyday world.

This must be remembered at this time of year and all-year round … and we must be intentional about allowing our light to shine out in the spiitual darkness that is working hard to engulf and swallow up our society and culture. True believers cannot afford to say or do nothing – we must let His light shine forth and His life inpact and influence those around us every day. A loittle easier at this time of the year – but a mandate we must obey every day regardless.

Ring Those Bells


When I was growing up you would hear Church bells on Sundays – from both protestant and Roman Catholic (English and French Catholic) churches. They would ring off and on from early Sunday morning well into the evening. I am sure for those who were not believers and wished to sleep in on Sundays they were not a pleasant experience. But for church goers it was a soothing and reassuring sound.

At Christmas time the sound of the bells – much louder and crisper due to the snow and the cold – would remind us of the birth of the Saviour and, as everyone walked in the freshly fallen snow to the local churches for Christmas Eve midnight services, it was a time to greet your neighbors and friends and celebrate and rejoice at the birth of the Savior. Stores were closed early, families gathered for the celebrations, all preparations for the big meal were accomplished ahead of time, tree was up, gifts were wrapped … the night and the next morning were set aside for families to gather to worship and thank God the Father for the gift of His Son, the Savior. The reading of John’s Gospel, chapter one, was always a highlight as were the carols that were sung with great gusto by everyone. Even the local cities and towns had Christmas trees in the town square and often pumped Christmas music into the downtown shopping district.

Today, in most cities, the bells are silent. Noise by-laws prevent them from being rung. In many churches the midnight Christmas Eve service has been eliminated or replaced with something much earlier in the day – again without the bells ringing. There are more people in the stores doing last minute shopping than there are in the churches. Family gatherings still happen but they are most often centered around the gifts and the over-eating with little if any thought or reference to the Savior. There are exceptions, of course. Christmas concerts are now Winter Festivals, the mention of Jesus in public celebrations is very rare and no longer socially acceptable, and Christmas carols have been replaced with festive seasonal songs from many nations and cultural backgrounds – all without the mention of Jesus.

The country has changed. Family traditions have changed. Churches have changed. The laws have changed as has the culture in which we, as believers, now celebrate the birth of the Savior. However, most believers have also been swayed by the changes in our society and are now celebrating the season in a manner much too much like their non-Christian friends and neighbors. The “Christian” elements are being eliminated or played down, the corporate worship at such a special time is being neglected or eliminated unless you are in a main-stream denominational church (and even then it is fading), and the family events, gifts, and food are becoming the center of the celebrations and the focus of the extra few days off. I, for one, think it is sad. Maybe it is just my age showing through.

This, of course, means that it is now, more than ever, up to the believer to ring the bells – to let others know about Jesus. As the “reason for the season” disappears ever so steadily from the mainstream of our culture it is being left to the individual believers to declare Jesus at this special time that once celebrated His birth so openly. Like the believers in the days of the Roman Empire we need to continue to worship Him while others worship their gods – especially the god of mammon. We need to be sure and steadfast in what we believe and how we should, as believers, express our beliefs. Otherwise, we will slowly but certainly slide into the cultural ways and disappear as a voice for the Savior today.