A whole lot of Americans were born into Christian families. They spend their Sundays and maybe even Wednesdays going to church, sitting with their friends during the message, and learning about Jesus.
But there comes a point where something is said or done that causes a lot of Christians to decide they no longer want to go to church or have a relationship with God anymore. There are a few things that happen: their parents were too strict, they never really connected with the messages, or someone in church said something that put them off.
IF ALL CHRISTIANS ARE GOING TO BE THIS WAY, WHY SHOULD I BOTHER COMING? CHRISTIANS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE BETTER AND KINDER.
Jonathan's home church is a lot different. It is more casual and contemporary, but still filled with the spirit of God. We started attending and got engaged. At this point, the pastor of the church lightly pressured us into hurrying our marriage along. We agreed and got married only a few months later. After this, the real problems began.
LISTING THE ISSUES
I started getting sick and losing all energy. So, we stopped coming on Wednesday nights. Our schedule was rather hectic and I still had a house to take care of.
Shortly after we stopped coming regularly on Wednesdays, but still coming on Sundays, Jonathan received a text message from the assistant pastor. He told my husband to "be a man" and make me come to church. This was not OK. You are not allowed to judge someone's manhood because they aren't forcing their sick wife to hop up and go to church when they wouldn't be able to focus on the message and might actually cause distraction to other churchgoers.
Before all of this happened, I served faithfully in the nursery. I went wherever I was told to go and helped in whatever way I could. I told the lady in charge of the nursery that I would be out of town on most holidays. Several of the ladies who served in the nursery were local and had family near them. We always go out of town to spend time with our parents, grandparents, and siblings.
SO I WAS BARRED FROM SERVING IN THE NURSERY BECAUSE I ASKED HER IF I COULD SWITCH DAYS WITH SOMEONE BECAUSE OF HER NEGLECT WHEN MAKING THE SCHEDULE. THIS REALLY HURT BECAUSE I LOVE CHILDREN AND NEVER COMPLAINED ABOUT SERVING IN THIS CAPACITY.
WHAT FINALLY HAPPENED
It all came to a close when the head pastor visited the house where we live to tell me that I should move or find a different church if I couldn't come every single service. I'd never been so frustrated before. I felt hopeless and wondered why I had ever stepped foot in that place.
But we decided to start looking for different churches. One of my coworkers told me about her church and we decided to give it a visit. From the moment I walked in, I knew it was going to be different. However, since our first visit, I never leave without feeling 1,000 times lighter. I leave with love in my heart and a good message to get me through to the next service. I wasn't getting that at our old church. It felt repetitive and mundane. It felt judgey and harsh.
YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT, AT THIS OLD CHURCH, THE PASTORS WOULD TALK ABOUT SPECIFIC PEOPLE BEHIND THE PULPIT. THEY WOULD TRY TO DISGUISE WHO THEY WERE PREACHING ABOUT, BUT THE CHURCH WAS SO SMALL THAT EVERYONE KNEW.
WHY I'M STILL A CHRISTIAN
I usually put people who are Christians or people with faith to a higher standard. I agree that everyone is human. But you can't go into every situation with an intent to hurt someone and they blame your actions on the fact that everyone is human.
After all, our call is to be like Jesus. It isn't like Jesus to name call or to treat someone with disrespect because they don't fulfill your requirements for the perfect person.
I'M STILL A CHRISTIAN BECAUSE IT ISN'T GOD'S FAULT THAT SOME HUMANS ARE AWFUL. I HAVE SEEN AND CONTINUE TO SEE PEOPLE WHO CLAIM TO BE CHRISTIANS GOING THROUGH STRUGGLES OF THEIR OWN. CALL IT KARMA OR CALL IT GOD, BUT I THINK THAT IS TEACHING THEM A LESSON.
I love God. He gives me little reminders throughout the day that he is watching, listening, and caring for me. That's why I refuse to let someone influence my relationship with him.
It is easier said than done to ignore chaos around you to worship. When the stuff happening around you starts to impact your relationship with God and your ability to absorb a message, it is probably time to find somewhere new to learn and grow. And that's OK.
Since there won’t be another (Son)days Until (Christ)mas before Christmas Day, I wanted to use this Sunday to talk all about Jesus’ birth. I will be restating what the verses say, but I think you should go check it out for yourself for sure.
MATTHEW 1:18 TO MATTHEW 2:23
In this gospel, much of the first half of the verses in the first chapter are the family tree of Jesus’ earthly parents. By verse 18, the chapter begins to detail Jesus’ birth and origin story.
Matthew says that Jesus’ mother Mary, who was to marry Joseph, became pregnant with a child of the Holy Ghost. Joseph, when he found out, was troubled because he didn’t want to embarrass her, so he started to think about breaking off the engagement. However, the Angel of the Lord appeared in a dream and told Joseph that the child was of the Holy Ghost.
The angel told Joseph they would have a son and that they should name him Jesus. It then says that Joseph went on to marry Mary and didn’t break her virginity until after she had Jesus in Bethlehem of Judaea.
The wise men left and found the child. It says here that they came into the house to see the child with Mary. They then worshiped him and presented him with gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Frankincense is a resin that is obtained from an African tree. It is sweet smelling and is often burned as incense. Myrrh is similar. It is also a resin from trees near the East that is used in perfumes, medicines, and incense. Both would have been very valuable in those days.
After finding the child, the wise men had a dream where God told them not to go back to the king. After their dream, the Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph again in a dream, telling him to leave and go to Egypt because Herod was set to destroy Jesus. They left in the middle of the night and lived in Egypt until Herod died. But, before he died, Herod decided to kill all of the children in Bethlehem who were two years old or younger since he did not hear from the wise men.
After Herod died, the Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph again and told him to take his family to Israel, and he did. They moved to a city called Nazareth.
LUKE 1:36-37 AND LUKE 2:1-20
Interestingly enough, Luke begins with the origin story of John the Baptist and mentions Jesus’ birth by verse 26. In verse 26, it says that the angel Gabriel came to Mary and told her that she was highly favored by God and that she is blessed among all women. Mary was confused and worried when she saw the angel, but the angel told her not to worry.
The angel said that she was going to have a son named Jesus who would be called the Son of the Highest and he shall have the throne of David and that his kingdom will never end. Mary said she didn’t know how that would be possible since she was a virgin. The angel explains she will conceive through the Holy Ghost. Her cousin Elisabeth, John the Baptist’s mother, was also brought up. The angel told Mary her cousin would also have a child.
Shepherds in the same area were watching their flock when the angel of the Lord came to them, which scared them. The angel told them not to be afraid and told them of Jesus’ birth. A bunch of other angels appeared and praised God. The shepherds went to visit Jesus.
HOW THE STORIES WORK TOGETHER TO COMPLETE THE NARRATIVE
In Matthew, we are told that Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem when Jesus was born. Luke gives us the reason they were there: to be taxed by the Roman ruler of the time. We are also given the reaction from Joseph and from Mary, and we also learn of the shepherds and wise men.
Additionally, we see that some time must have passed between the birth of Jesus and when they fled to Egypt because Herod has all children aged two and younger killed.
These two gospels work together beautifully to give us a description of Jesus’ life before and after he was born, though it doesn’t give us much about when he was growing up.
The inspiration for your favorite songs come from somewhere. If you have a favorite Christian Christmas song, the inspiration is derived from the Bible.
In today's (Son)days Until (Christ)was blog, I wanted to share the meaning behind your favorite Christian Christmas songs and tell you where you can find the verses that inspired it! I'll also share some of my favorite covers of the song!
MARY, DID YOU KNOW?
This popular Christmas song, most popularly covered by the a cappella group Pentatonix, covers a number of Jesus' miracles while asking his mother if she even knew that her son would go on to do these great things. Here are some of the first lines (in KJV) following the song lyrics:
"Mary did you k now that your baby boy would one day walk on water"
Matthew 14:25-27 | "And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, it is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid."
"Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?"
John 3:16 | "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life"
"Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?"
II Corinthians 5:17 | "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
"That child that you delivered will soon deliver you."
Matthew 6:13 | "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thing is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, for ever, Amen.
AWAY IN A MANGER
"Away in a manger, no crib for a bed. The little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head."
Luke 2:7 | "And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn."
"The stars in the sky looked down where He lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay."
Matthew 2:9-10 | "When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy."
ANGELS, WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH
This entire song is based off of some verses in Luke"
"Angels we have heard on high, sweetly singing o'er the planes."
Luke 2:13-14 | "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
At the risk of making this too long, I will just stick with these three! I hope you enjoyed learning where the inspiration for these songs came from in the Bible!
I've done a lot of thinking and heard a lot of wise words on this subject. No matter if you're looking for a Christian lesson plan for your Sunday school class, or if you're simply interested in how common Christmas symbols can be related to Jesus or Christianity, keep reading!
SANTA CLAUS = GOD/THE TRINITY
God can be related to the jolly man in red mainly due to his omnipresence, or his ability to be everywhere at once. In the popular song "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," the singer says "He sees you when you're sleeping, and he knows when you're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake."
CHRISTMAS TREE W/ LIGHTS= CROSS & LIGHT OF THE WORLD
Jesus is often referred to as the "Light of the World." Basically, He brings goodness in a world of bad and brings salvation to people of all creeds and races. He was placed on a tree, much like our Christmas lights. On the day of His death, Jesus shone bright, showing humility and strength and forgiveness. Those who are drawn to the cross are likely to use their God-given gifts for Jesus' glory, laying their talent at His feet.
CANDY CANE = THE GOSPEL NARRATIVE
POINSETTIAS = THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM
SNOW = PURITY
I hope you enjoyed today's post. I know that Christianity isn't everyone's thing, but I only think it is right to spend this season talking about Jesus this way. I hope you will take some time to still enjoy my Sunday posts and pass them around to your friends!
Welcome to a new series all about Christ! For the next few Sundays, the blog posts will be Jesus-themed focusing on Christmas as the time of year where Christians observe Jesus' birthday.
In today's blog, I wanted to talk a bit about the religious origins of Christmas. Grab a snack, sit back, and prepare to learn more about the day we celebrate Jesus' birth.
EARLY RELIGIOUS CELEBRATIONS
Several centuries prior to Jesus' birth, the winter months were always used as a time of celebration to help lift the spirits around the darkest times of year. Dark meaning the opposite of light. However, you could also say that time of year was rather dark, as many cattle were slaughtered so that farmers wouldn't have to feed them in the winter.
Winter solstice was often celebrated as long days were finally over! Celebrations also happened in Norse communities where Dec. 21 marked the first day of Yule when it was customary for fathers and sons to gather logs to burn while they enjoyed a Winter solstice feast. This is where the Yule log's name came from.
Pagans paid respects to Oden, of whom they were terrified. The pagans believed that Oden would fly through the sky and watch them at night to decide their fate. Even though the winter was freezing, most pagans would say they were staying inside to escape Oden's watchful eye.
JESUS' INTRO TO WINTER CELEBRATIONS
Unsurprisingly, Christmas wasn't the most important holiday to early Christians. Instead, Christians focused their religious celebrations on Easter Sunday, the day that Jesus rose from the grave after being crucified three days earlier.
No one is 100 percent sure as to why the date was chosen, but most scholars believe that Pope Julius I was trying to have the Christian holiday around the same time as pagan holidays and holidays of the non-religious in order to take over their traditions.
Christmas spread to Egypt by 432, then to England by the end of the 6th century, according to the History Channel. People around the world all the way to Scandinavia celebrated the holiday. Of course, the tradition came to America along with the pilgrims and other early settlers.
A MISDIRECTION IN PLANS
I apologize if this blog post seemed entirely too long, but I really enjoyed doing the research! I hope you learned something new. It seems that our modern-day Christmas combines a number of old traditions and Christmas traditions.
I hope you enjoyed and I hope you enjoy this educational series!
HOW TO GET TO HEAVEN
There is a common misconception that there are several ways to get to Heaven when you die. This isn't true. JESUS IS THE ONLY WAY TO HEAVEN.
God is a perfect being who designed each and every one of us. He is sinless, good, and perfect. However, after Eve ate that apple, sin was released into the world and, as a result, everyone was born into sin and everyone does wrong. Only those without sin can enter into Heaven. But don't worry, Jesus came down to Earth and paid your sin debt do you could go to Heaven. Jesus is our salvation and offers us a way to Heaven. A way to live with Him forever. Here is what you have to do: