Warring Against the War on Christmas

I was recently told that I, as a pastor, should be very concerned about the “War on Christmas.”

I must confess, I am not concerned with what the world does with Christmas.

It is a little known fact that Christmas used to be illegal to celebrate in America. The Puritans didn’t like it because it was Catholic–Christ-Mass. Do you see it? Puritans aren’t Catholic. Boo Catholics.

Now, I’m not suggesting Christmas should be illegal, I’m suggesting that I don’t care what the world does with Christmas and I feel no obligation as a Christian to be bothered by the “War on Christmas.”

What concerns me more than what the world does with Christmas, is what Christians do with Christmas.

Take this picture for instance:

This photo bothers me. It pops up in several versions and often comes with a poem. Here is one variation of the poem:

The sleigh was all packed, the reindeer were fed,
But Santa still knelt by the side of his bed,
“Dear Father, ” he prayed, “Be with me tonight.
There’s much work to do and my schedule is tight.
My sack will hold toys to grant all kids’ wishes.
The supply will be endless like the loaves and the fishes.
I can do all these things, Lord, only through You.
I just need your blessing, then it’s easy to do.
I do this only to honor the birth of the One,
That was sent to redeem us, Your most Holy Son.
So to all of my friends, lest Your glory I rob,
Please, Lord, remind them who gave me this job.”

OK, here’s where Jeff’s head explodes.

I just, I don’t even, I mean, come on, seriously?

The book of Ezekiel is about the downfall of Israel and Jerusalem, the dispersion of the Jewish people because they broke their Covenant with God.

Ezekiel says one of the main reasons why they were judged is because they lost the ability to discern between the sacred and the profane.

Sacred things are thing set apart for a purpose, things that are holy and sanctified.

Profane things are common, ordinary, every day usage kind of things.

Israel treated Sacred things like Profane things and they brought the Profane into what was Sacred. They lost their way.

I am not saying Santa kneeling before the manger photos are equivalent to the sin of Israel. I am saying it’s headed in that direction.

Santa is fictional. He’s not real. What confusion does this cause to kids? Is Jesus fictional too?

More than likely, the sincere attempt with this picture and poem is to elevate Christ. Our traditions bow before Jesus.

I get it. I know.

But I think the exact opposite occurs. I think instead we are yoking together the profane with the sacred.

I feel bad going after things like this, I really do. But where is the line between making a point and being blasphemous?

For me, this crosses the line. It’s sentimentalism that fails to keep a distinction between the sacred and the profane, and by doing so, ends up profaning the sacred.

If you want to celebrate Christmas, go for it. If you don’t want to, then don’t. But try and keep the blasphemy to a minimum.

The World’s Ignorance of Christian Beliefs

“It is not well to be always understood. Our ways and habits should be those of strangers, citizens of a foreign country, whose language and laws, and customs are but poorly known here. Flesh and blood cannot appreciate them, and therefore it is not well with the saints of God when the world understands them.”
–J. G. Bellett

It does not bother me that the world does not understand or like Christian beliefs. It’s actually a point in Christianity’s favor!

I am more troubled by Christians being bothered that the world doesn’t like or understand their beliefs.

I can only imagine how ridiculous the world would think our beliefs were if they actually understood what it is we believe!

I’m more troubled by how many Christians have no idea what Christians believe. It stuns me how many Christians, who claim to be “saved by faith,” have not read the Bible, when the Bible says “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”

In what sense do you have faith if you have not heard the Word of God?

I am very little troubled by the world’s misunderstandings and non-liking of Christian belief. Let em howl.

But I am very concerned for many warm bodies in churches who have no idea why they are there or what is being talked about.

Worry less about the world’s ignorance and take care of your own.

Genetics, Sin, and the Gospel

There are genetic predispositions to disease. Cancer, among other diseases, runs in families.

If you find out young enough that there is a genetic predisposition to cancer, there are things you can do to stave it off: don’t consume tons of alcohol, don’t smoke, eat right, exercise, etc.

These things are no guarantee, but you would be frowned upon for smoking and drinking if there is a genetic predisposition to cancer. Your doctors and family would all tell you to stop it.

Even when a person gets cancer, what do we tell them? “Oh well, guess you just submit to it and die.”

There may be some who say that, but for the most part, people tell you to “fight it.” Even those who lose to cancer, we celebrate for their courageous fight against it.

We live in a world that increasingly tells us that “sin” is actually just a genetic predisposition.

The classic example, in our faces seemingly every day, is homosexuality. Scientists are trying their hardest to tell us there is a genetic predisposition to homosexuality.

So, for sake of argument, we’ll grant the point.

Is our genetic makeup inherently good? If so, what’s the whole deal with fighting a genetic predisposition to cancer? Is cancer good? Heart disease good? Are doctors the bad people for trying to thwart these genetic things?

I think we can agree that just because something is genetic doesn’t mean it’s good.

So, when it comes to genetic predispositions toward anger, sexual aggression, homosexuality, or any other behavior, could it not also be possible that even if there is a genetic predisposition, couldn’t it be fought? Couldn’t it be staved off by modifying behavior?

Or put it the other way: what if there’s a genetic predisposition to be homophobic! Do you think homophobic people would be told to fight that?!

One thing you’ll notice is that I am linking cancer with homosexuality in this argument. I assure you this is not my doing.

This is the doing of the age we live in. If all behavior and illness is purely genetic, then there is no difference between “bad” behavior and illness.

Our modern culture is encouraging, and in some countries implementing, the abortion of genetically diseased babies. In other words, diseases are becoming morally unacceptable. (This will increase the more governments have control of health care, by the way).

Morality, in the modern world, is based on societal effects, whether my actions hurt others. If I have to pay everyone’s health care, then I get a say in how it is spent. If your MS costs society, we will eventually decide to kill people with MS.

So, our diseases are becoming sins, and our sins are becoming diseases. This is not my opinion, this is what happened in the past and is happening today.

This puts society in weird moral positions. Our current moral landscape looks absolutely ridiculous. Society celebrates Hugh Hefner while firing all the men who acted on what Hefner promoted.

In some areas we are told to fight genetic predispositions, and in others we are told to give in to them. I’m baffled to know which is for when.

Except I’m not.

People want to sin and they want to feel good about their sin. If we conclude “I can’t help it, I was born this way,” then responsibility is gone, sin is no longer a problem, and I can do what I want.

There is a way out of the confusion. God has revealed what morality is. You may be genetically predisposed to certain sins (anger, lust, homosexuality), but by no means does this mean we don’t fight destructive urges.

Jesus Christ told us we must be born again. That in Christ our old nature is crucified with its affections and lusts. There is help through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome the flesh with all its “genetic predispositions.”

It remains our only hope.

Tools of Faithful Titans

A couple weeks ago I finished reading Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss.

It’s a massive book, 600+ pages, comprised of snippets of interviews Tim did with, what Tim considers to be, successful people.

Much of it was weird. Many push doing hallucinogenics. Many are overly obsessed with diet and exercise to the extent it consumes most of their waking hours, or at least it would if I were to do all that. Most also pushed transcendental meditation.

Many of their heroes and recommended resources were religious in nature, but mostly Buddhist, Taoist, of Gandhi type things.

Not a single one mentioned Jesus Christ. Six hundred plus pages and not one mention of Jesus Christ, not even in a sloppy way. No mention whatsoever.

At first this bugged me, “are you suggesting that no successful people follow Jesus? I mean, seriously?”

But as I thought about it more, this is actually a good thing!

What Tim Ferriss respects are people who are dominant, those who have followers, and material success.

Buddhism allows you methods by which you can attain material success. Meditation is a “spiritual” thing you do to get better physical results.

If a person followed Jesus Christ, they would never be on Tim Ferriss’ show, nor in his books.

Jesus Christ will not lead you to be materially successful.

Now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t those who manipulate His teachings to arrive at material success, there are, and they are called false teachers–their god is their belly.

But an honest following of Jesus will leave you disrespected by Tim Ferriss and other self-help gurus. Even if you did achieve financial success, following Christ would make you get rid of that money in a non-flashy, not gonna make it on Tim’s show, kind of way.

Hebrews 11 is God’s version of Tools of Titans.

All these people were massive losers in the world’s eyes. But in God’s eyes, they were eminently successful.

And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

The world has no respect for no-name poor people who suffer and then die. Tim Ferriss has no use for such folks. They provide no value to him or his worldview.

Even the great people of faith we do know did not have great material success.

Abraham never saw any of the promises he was given fulfilled, he died still wondering where the fruit was.

Moses couldn’t get anyone to listen to him ever.

Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel were largely ignored and then killed by the people they were sent to help.

Paul died alone, no man stood with him.

Peter was crucified.

And, of course, our Leader, Jesus Christ, was rejected and even forsaken by His own disciples.

He asks you to follow Him in this rejection, in this lowliness and humility. Lose your life to find it.

This is all insane on an earthly level.

Tim Ferriss wrote a 600+ page book about how to be successful on this earth and Jesus was not mentioned once.

I like that.

Trump, Jerusalem, and Your Bible

 

Last week President Trump announced that the US would move their embassy to Jerusalem, the “capital of Israel.”

This caused quite the stir.

Politically speaking, I’m all for America treating Israel well. They are a valuable ally, and I think some compassion should be shown them due to their precarious position and miserable history. I’d rather side with them than any other nation in the Middle East. I actually like Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, because, duh, it clearly is.

Common sense tells you Jerusalem is the capital. It’s so common sense that a video was put out showing that all our recent presidents acknowledged this:

All recent presidents have promised to do what President Trump actually went ahead and did. It did take guts, whether you agree with it or not.

In all honesty, the desire to not treat Jerusalem as Israel’s capital comes from a humanist, Bible-rejecting worldview. Not saying everyone in that camp is a Bible-rejecting humanist, just saying that’s where this stance comes from.

Physically speaking
, the Bible was written by Jews. It’s mainly about Jews. Your Savior was Jewish. Salvation is of the Jews. All who are of faith have Abraham as their father. They are the tree we are grafted into.

Antisemitism, the foundation for any Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel thinking, exists largely because of the Bible. They have suffered for thousands of years for what we take for granted. They deserve our respect and appreciation.

Unfortunately, many people, mainly Christians, put too much significance on this sort of thing. It’s the mindset that lead to the Crusades: we must fight to regain the Holy Land!

Here’s a gem I came across from President Trump’s rally last Friday.

Speaker at Trump rally: the soon coming King is coming back to Jerusalem because President Trump declared Jerusalem to be capital of Israel

 
According to the above quote, Donald Trump has allowed the Messiah to return.

Jesus Christ does not need anything to be put in place by anyone to come back. He can just come when He, and/or the Father, wants.

It is important not to mix modern national Israel with the promises of God to Israel.

So, spiritually speaking, we can view all the diplomacy of the US as being without much consequence.

The children of the flesh (racial Israel) are not the children of the promise (those who are of faith).

National Israel today is just a chunk of dirt on the globe. It bears no eternal significance, now that the presence of God has departed the temple.

Israel is a fallen nation of fallen people with fallen leaders just like our country and every other.

These are just geo-political nations that have zero eternal value. Christ does not need US diplomatic permission to return!

Views on Israel can get very frustrating. Lots of confusing positions are taken. Be careful. I think it’s good to break down your view on these Political, Physical, and Spiritual levels. It might help you think things through better.

Rather than wasting breath arguing over Trump, Israel, Jerusalem, or such things, instead listen to Psalm 122:

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.

Donald Trump, nor any other leader, will bring lasting peace to Jerusalem. God can and will. All our attempts will merely be more evidence of our great need for the King of Kings to reign.

Christ’s coming will bring peace to Jerusalem.

Praying for the peace of Jerusalem is praying for Christ to return.

If that doesn’t get you to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, I don’t know what will!

Stuff to Look At

Here are a couple things I’d like to promote:

*My sister, a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, and I are planning on doing a Read Through the Bible program this year and will be doing a 10-15 minute podcast on each week’s reading. If you would like to participate, send me an email to daweddles@yahoo.com and we will add you to the list and keep you posted on new episodes.

*I have been writing for a ministry called Ananias House lately. They are a ministry to the persecuted church in Syria and surrounding environs. Here are a couple articles I have written for them:

Persecution, Death, and Other Things to be Thankful For

We’re not Salesmen; We’re Ambassadors for Christ

The Suffering of the Body

The Daily, Un-celebrated Plodding of Faith

*I preached a couple months worth of sermons about the Gospel and then a series on Evangelism. There are a couple sermons I’d like you to hear that encapsulate many years of experience and frustration with the average explanation of Evangelism.

Evangelism and the Other Person

People have to Want the Gospel

God in Evangelism

True Evangelism is Hard

 

Thank you. That is all. Carry on.

Doubting Fanatics

“The fanatic is always concealing a secret doubt.”

George Smiley, author of spy novels, said this. I have no idea what the context is because I do not read spy novels.

I will, however, use my ignorance of the context to pontificate on an idea.

A fanatic is someone, in my opinion, completely sold out to an idea to the extent of being willing to fight for it. Not just willing to fight if a fight comes, but itching to fight for it, starting fights for the sole opportunity of fighting for it.

People who yell and scream and get mad at those who disagree with them. These are fanatics.

To paraphrase Shakespeare: Me thinks thou dost protest too much.

People who make a scene of defending their cause, who use violence, vitriol, and red-faced arguing, are actually displaying their insecurity.

Emotional rage is a substitute for intellectual reasoning.

Observe our modern political landscape. There are few calm voices. Everyone is yelling. Most Americans who are yelling can’t name the three branches of their government or the difference between the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Theologically, Calvinists are largely fanatical. Calvinists have no monopoly on fanaticism, but they are a handy example since this response is prevalent among them, which makes a guy like me have that much more confidence in my own stance on the issue.

One Calvinist posted on this page for years, made everything about Calvinism, and argued every post. I eventually blocked him.

He changed his username and email and tried posting under a new identity. But I had ways in place to block him and knew it was him changing his identity. He then sent me emails for months, few of which I read, continuing to fight.

This was all very weird to me. I make no secret of not liking Calvinism. But I do not hunt them down to fight with them. I do not troll their blogs.

The reason behind our responses, in my opinion, is because I have confidence the Bible is on my side; he did not.

Several times in our discussions over the years he could not answer my arguments and told me to talk to his pastor or read some book someone wrote.

Anytime someone says that to you it’s because they do not know what they are talking about. People who don’t know what they are talking about have doubts. People with doubts get loud and argumentative.

It is a waste of time to argue with fanatics. They are not listening. They are just arguing to give them a confident feeling their intellect can not. They go to bed at night knowing they defended the faith against the nay-sayers.

Watch out for yelly, argumentative fanatics of any camp: political, doctrinal, religious, etc. They don’t know what they’re talking about and use the number of fights they are in as proof of certainty.

Don’t give them that certainty. Calmly state your opinion and then move on.

Now some cried out one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together.