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“The divine babe of the manger is the one who would die on a cross, and was raised on the third day. Christmas is inseparable from Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.”
During the time of year that is purportedly set aside to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I find it quite interesting that very often it is nothing of the sort. There is a commercialism that has shrouded the intent of the holiday that highlights materialism and gluttony as opposed to the Advent of Christ into the earth realm. Even beyond the gross commercialism, however, there is a general skewed focus that emphasizes a visual construct of a baby in a manger with very little consideration for what His entrance into our existence really meant.
“Thanksgiving isn’t just a day. It’s a way we can live our lives every day.”
As we entered the period of the season that led up to Thanksgiving, it was interesting to note the intentionality with which society focused upon being thankful. One particular point of focus involved individuals utilizing each day in the month of November to express and denote things for which they were thankful. Another effort involved deliberately moving away from any type of negative speech and speaking only of that which is positive as a sign of gratitude to God for all of His blessings.
“Effective prayer is the key to living a victorious life.”
I think most of us will agree that prayer is a critical component of the Christian experience in that it involves our communication with God. Like all communication encounters, there is a way to engage in it that will maximize effectiveness. In recently reading this article by Doug Andre entitled “Five Keys to Effective Prayer”, I was impressed that he had a perspective on prayer and its effectiveness from which we all could benefit. As I share it with you today, it is my prayer that it will lift your prayer life to a new level.
Five Keys to Effective Prayer
By: Doug Andre
“Watson, come here! I want to see you!”
With these famous words, Alexander Graham Bell catapulted himself into instant historic notoriety as the inventor of the first practical telephone. During a June 2, 1875 experiment by Bell and his assistant, Thomas Watson, the telephone as we know it was born. It was a miraculous invention, and it changed the world forever.
“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”
Each of us has a unique virtue and grace assigned to us by God that gives expression to His presence in the earth. We have an inimitable set of skills that comprise our imprint on the world designed to answer a specific need or call in the earth. These talents and virtues were given to us to actively engage them in service to our families, our communities, and the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“The strength found in the circle of a Godly family can’t be broken.”
Whether our current society would like to admit it or not, the family is the foundation of our society. When families are in alignment with Godly principles society will follow and conversely when they are not, society will follow in the opposite direction. In recently reading this article by Jim and Jessica Hall entitled “Five Principles for Raising a Godly Family”, I identified some key components within the article that I believe will not only be a blessing to you but will serve as a resource that can be utilized to gauge your progress in facilitating a Godly family. It is my prayer as I share this article with you that it blesses you as it has blessed me.
- Dr. Craig L. Oliver, Sr.
Five Principles for Raising a Godly Family
By: Jim and Jessica Hall
Godly families are the bedrock of any spiritual community, and having godly children is a blessing that many parents long for. The big question many are asking is how does one actually produce a godly family. Issues of parenting and family discipline are not easy to advise on, because hard and fast rules are difficult to come by.
“The family is God’s greatest masterpiece.”
I think most of us will agree that the family is a critical component in the plans and purposes of God for humanity. In recently reading this article by Joel Hilliker entitled “An Important Ingredient in a Godly Family”, I immediately picked up on an aspect within the functioning of the family that we often overlook. I thought that it was important enough to share with you and pray that it provokes your understanding in the same manner in which it has sparked my own.
An Important Ingredient in a Godly Family
By: Joel Hilliker
What does it take to make a family happy and harmonious? Here’s a quality you may have overlooked—but it may be the most beautiful of all: Humility.
What do I mean? Think for a moment about the most loving family relationship that ever existed: that between God the Father and Jesus Christ. Some of the deepest insight we get into this love relationship comes in the statements Christ made about His Father while He was on this Earth as a man.
“My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work,” He said (John 4:34). Jesus oriented His entire life around His Father’s will. He immersed His thinking in what His Father wanted to accomplish, and then in doing that.
Christ is a profoundly humble Being. He has a perfectly childlike attitude toward His Father. He has a deep understanding of His place in the Family government—and He loves that! And that makes Him totally unified with the Father.
No wonder the Father said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased!” What father wouldn’t be deeply moved by a child with such an attitude? The more that any of us takes on that attitude, the more unified with God we will be.
Jesus Christ made several statements that demonstrated this attitude—and they are some of the most beautiful statements in the Bible.
I can’t do anything of myself, He said. I just watch what my Father does—and that’s what I do (John 5:19). This magnificent Being has done this with the Father throughout eternity: watch, study—and copy. As the Father makes decisions, handles problems and directs the angels, the Son is always watching and learning.
“Without deep roots, even the lightest winds of adversity can blow us over.”
In order for trees to grow, they must have deep roots in good soil. What we see happening above ground is largely indicative of roots that have procured nourishment from rich soil and sustained the tree in a way that promotes healthy expansion. The stability of the tree is also directly correlated with the depth of its roots. A tree with shallow roots is less likely to withstand the assault of a storm as opposed to one deeply rooted in the soil. We find this same principle at work in our lives. If we are to victoriously navigate the various seasons of our lives it requires that we be firmly rooted in Jesus Christ.
“Change your perception of things and you will change your reality.”
Victory or defeat is determined not so much by what happens to us as much as how we perceive what is happening to us. The way we process and perceive the context of our lives largely informs whether we navigate it from a place of victory or misery. Perception is key.
When considering the impact that a wrongful jail sentence could have on the life of a person, it would be easy to regard the injustice of the faulty verdict. One could rightly bemoan the systemic miscarriage of justice that would allow such a conviction and look through the limiting lenses of restricted freedom and limited interactions. The Apostle Paul, however, actively demonstrated throughout his life the power that comes when one refuses to be defined by what is happening to them but adjusts their perception to align with the purposes of God being made manifest.
“The two hardest things to handle in life are failure and success.”
We are often taught the importance of navigating places and moments of adversity from the perspective of effectively maximizing uncomfortable seasons and circumstances providentially allowed by our Heavenly Father. By comparison, lessons that teach us how to strategically walk through the successful seasons of our lives seem to be far fewer in number. I would argue that it is just as important to learn how to handle seasons of success as it is seasons of adversity. As a matter of fact, seasons of plenty and abundance can be dangerous for the person who is ill-advised of the responsibility that comes with it. Subtle traps of pride and relaxed discipline can slowly but certainly shift us to places of destruction and calamity when we are unaware of how to effectively tread the course of success.
“Extremes are easy. Strive for balance.”
As the quote above implies, it takes a specific grace to walk in moderation. It takes intentional discipline to live a life that is in balance. Balance is defined as “a state of equilibrium; equal distribution of weight or amount; mental steadiness or emotional stability; a habit of calm behavior and judgment”. Balance denotes order, structure, design and intentionality.
I am not sure how or when but somewhere in our culture we have normalized imbalance and extremism. We are overworked, overscheduled, not engaged at home, popping pills to go to sleep, popping pills to wake up, ministering to others while neglecting our homes, ministering to others while neglecting our own mental health, and the list goes on and on! This is not how we were designed to live. We were created by our Heavenly Father to live lives that are a balanced expression of His grace in the earth realm.