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Monthly Archives: December 2016

What Does the X in Xmas Mean? by R.C. Sproul

merry-x-mas11

I always thought the X in Christmas was a way of taking Christ out of Christmas.  However, Dr. Sproul introduces a different and interesting perspective on the use of the X.

The X in Christmas is used like the R in R.C. My given name at birth was Robert Charles, although before I was even taken home from the hospital my parents called me by my initials, R.C., and nobody seems to be too scandalized by that.

X can mean so many things. For example, when we want to denote an unknown quantity, we use the symbol X. It can refer to an obscene level of films, something that is X-rated. People seem to express chagrin about seeing Christ’s name dropped and replaced by this symbol for an unknown quantity X. Every year you see the signs and the bumper stickers saying, “Put Christ back into Christmas” as a response to this substitution of the letter X for the name of Christ.

There’s no X in Christmas

First of all, you have to understand that it is not the letter X that is put into Christmas. We see the English letter X there, but actually what it involves is the first letter of the Greek name for Christ. Christos is the New Testament Greek for Christ. The first letter of the Greek word Christos is transliterated into our alphabet as an X. That X has come through church history to be a shorthand symbol for the name of Christ.

We don’t see people protesting the use of the Greek letter theta, which is an O with a line across the middle. We use that as a shorthand abbreviation for God because it is the first letter of the word Theos, the Greek word for God.

X has a long and sacred history

The idea of X as an abbreviation for the name of Christ came into use in our culture with no intent to show any disrespect for Jesus. The church has used the symbol of the fish historically because it is an acronym. Fish in Greek (ichthus) involved the use of the first letters for the Greek phrase “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.” So the early Christians would take the first letter of those words and put those letters together to spell the Greek word for fish. That’s how the symbol of the fish became the universal symbol of Christendom. There’s a long and sacred history of the use of X to symbolize the name of Christ, and from its origin, it has meant no disrespect.

Busyness is Not a Spiritual Gift – by Tammy Whitehurst

busynessI easily become overloaded, overburdened, and go overboard with busyness. I’ve often thought to myself that life would be perfect if bad times had fast forward buttons and good times had pause buttons. I’d also like to clone myself to get more done and never have to sit back and wait for anything. But is that really what I want?

Wait is a tough word to deal with in today’s busy world. Being too busy can distract us from the really important things in our lives—people. Do I really like being so busy that I’m worn out by noon? No. I know deep within my heart that being overloaded is a way for the enemy to distract me from those most precious to me. If I’m really honest, I would have to admit I learn more during those calm and peaceful times when my heart, soul, and mind all unite to seek God’s will than I do when I’m stretching my mind to hold more and more while I’m falling apart. One thing I have to remember on a daily basis is that wait is not an ugly word and “busy” is not a spiritual gift. After all, God says in Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Isn’t being still waiting? When you have a personality like mine, it’s hard to be still, but it is only during those moments alone with God that I can truly feel a peace that surpasses all understanding. Busy is the enemy of peace. Busy steals precious time. Busy robs my blessings.

Waiting Time Is Never Wasting Time

In this fast paced, jungle-like world we build for ourselves, we rarely have “waiting” time anymore. We expect instant gratification and instant results—at lightening fast speed! We become so engrossed in paperwork that we delete all the “people” work in our lives. We become so busy that we can’t remember the last time we took a full day off or sat at the dinner table with the family.

Life can bring about big storms and the waves hit hard if we don’t slow down. Busy can beat upon us like a drum. When those closest to us have stopped asking for our time, it’s because they know we are too busy for them. That’s crushing to the heart. We all need “waiting” time, whether we think we do or not. Waiting time is when we say adamantly, “It can wait!” and we step back and do what is really important.

I discovered this after I found myself checking my appointment book to see if I could squeeze in lunch with my 18-year-old daughter. I knew then that I had to back up and take a good look at my priorities. The world would momentarily stop if something ever happened to her, so why can’t I stop when she wants me to have lunch? It’s amazing how busy I allow myself to be. To actually clear my schedule for a day or two feels impossible. I feel as if everything would fall apart if I said, “No, I’m sorry. I can’t do that task,” or if I refuse to answer my phone. God puts his healing hand under my chin and assures me of one thing—he will never leave me and he wants me to trust him as he helps me clear my overloaded plate to a manageable amount.

The storm that rages inside me is shouting, “Slow Down!” and demands my attention. But if I heed that call, the Creator of peace will shower me with a peace that surpasses all understanding if I just trust him. The fragrance of grace and mercy will overflow in me when I come to peace with being less busy. Breaking old patterns is hard, but God reminds me that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

Morning by Morning New Mercies I See

I began to sing the hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” as I awoke each day. I asked the Lord to help me give up a life of unbridled busyness and to show me how to achieve balance between worshiping God, loving my family, and enjoying my work. Somehow during the course of my life, I mixed those up and put work at the beginning. From this day forward, busy was not going to win out any more. Busy was not going to push me around till I was worn out from the struggle. I stood up tall, held my shoulders back, and smiled. I began to seize the opportunity to truly listen to God’s plan for my life. Someone once told me peace smells like cupcakes. Step back and welcome that smell. Let your house begin to take on the odor of a bakery and watch how you begin to see and taste that the Lord is good once you grow still and begin to slow down.

If you are in a season of fast-paced insanity, no fun frustration, and running around like a road runner, I encourage you to seek God with all your heart and ask him to help you clear the unnecessary chaos that you have brought to your life. Sit and wait as he begins to show you the things to remove, and be ready to listen. Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes. Do you love some of the things he might remove? Yes. But trust him and hang on to your faith with an iron fist as you seek to glorify the Lord with your life. Begin to say, “Use me, Lord!” not, “Why me, Lord?”

God is going to see you through and when he does, you will stand taller and bolder, and be more faithful. You’ll begin to smell the roses, taste the rain, laugh more, and not miss out on the important things in life. You’ll overflow with good things rather than be drained from exhaustion. You’ll come out of the desert singing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” and knowing that God is in control after all. It’s such a relief to not have to try to control everything. And the best part is that one day, as you awaken to sunshine peering through your window, you’ll feel the joy of the Lord has returned to your life. You’ll know that joy comes in the morning when you realize that busyness is not a spiritual gift.

The ultimate peacemaker said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled …” (John 14:27). He releases you to run free from chaos and to break free from busyness so you can experience a peace that surpasses all understanding. So, when your heart is calm, thank him. And once you’ve done that, go to lunch with a loved one and don’t forget to turn off your phone.

Tammy Whitehurst, a Christian speaker, is the founder of Joy for the Journey Ministries. You can read more about her at tammywhitehurst.com.

Weapon of Prayer – Charles Spurgeon

Their prayer came to his holy habitation in heaven. 2 Chronicles 30.27

prayer-my-weapon-of-choicePrayer is the never-failing response of the Christian in any case, in every plight. When you cannot use your sword, you may take up
the weapon of prayer. Your powder may be damp, your bowstring may be relaxed, but the weapon of prayer need never be out of order. Satan laughs at the javelin, but he trembles at prayer. Swords and spears need to be sharpened, but prayer never rusts; and when we think it most blunt, it cuts the best. Prayer is an open door that no one can shut. Devils may surround
you on all sides, but the way upward is always open, and as long as that road is unobstructed, you will not fall into the enemy’s hand.

We can never be taken by siege or invasion as long as heavenly help can come down to us and relieve us in the time of our necessities. Prayer is never out of season: In summer and in winter its merchandise is precious. Prayer gains audience with heaven in the dead of night, in the middle of business, in the heat of noonday, in the shades of evening. In every condition, whether poverty or sickness or obscurity or slander or doubt, your covenant God will welcome your prayer and answer it from His holy place.

And prayer is never futile. True prayer is always true power. You may not always get what you ask, but you shall always have your real needs supplied. When God does not answer His children according to the letter, He does so according to the spirit. If you ask for cornmeal, will you be angry because He gives you fine flour? If you seek physical health, should you complain if instead He makes your sickness result in your spiritual health? Is it not better to have the cross sanctified than removed? This evening, my soul, do not forget to offer your petition and request, for the Lord is ready to grant your desires.

Proper Place – Proper Time

four_corners_plaqueThe message today is focused on setting priorities.  In the book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon shares many important “eternal perspectives” that really count in this life on earth.  When looking at a proper place – proper time, King Solomon shares the following passage from Ecclesiastes 8.6, There is a proper time and procedure for every delight. Time has a tendency to get a way from us and we usually do not recognize it until it’s too late. Taking it a step further the following message from Dennis and Barbara Rainey, with Family Life Ministries, makes a point that we should seriously consider.

If you were to point your car southwest of Cortez, Colorado, drive exactly 38 miles along Highway 160 and then hang a right on Four Corners Monument Road, in about a half mile you’d run into the only spot in America where you can be in four states at the same time: the intersection of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. It’s out in the middle of an empty desert, surrounded by dust, rocks and boulders.

But that doesn’t stop upwards of 2,000 people a day from visiting Four Corners and waiting in line just for the thrill of having their picture taken standing in four states at once. Truly the American way, huh—trying to be four places at one time!

Truth be told, it’s a picture of the way many of us elect to live our lives. We are constantly pulled in several different directions. Our pressure-filled, rush-rush, hurried lifestyle has a way of leaving us winded, dazed, and addicted to the next item on our activity list.

It leaves us little time for serious spiritual reflection. Little time for anything more than snap judgments. Little time to share our dreams with each other as a couple. Little sense of where we’ve been and where we’re going.

What’s more, I fear that by crowding out any room for meaningful communication, original thought or spiritual insight in our family schedules, we’re fueling in our children a raw addiction to activity, constant motion, continuous noise, and endless sensory stimulation.

I urge you to stop and check the speed limit on this road you’re on. Imagine a life that allows for real living… the kind you’ll never find at Four Corners.

Discuss

What cutbacks and other restrictions could you impose on yourselves that would make your lives dramatically more manageable three to six months from now? Start by finding one thing you’ll say no to.

Pray

Ask God to give you both the tenacity and the wisdom to build some margin into your lives and family.