I pray your holidays were blessed!! It was great to have time with Missy and the kids to stay up late, play, go to movies and just sleep in!!! However, I must confess that I wondered if Jesus was pleased with the way our culture celebrates his birth. Have you ever had that thought?? I can't help but think that we have gravitated a long way- AWAY- from the manger!!
Even though I enjoyed the time off, in some ways I felt like I was still working. It seemed that too much time was spent getting ready and prepared for the holiday was constantly on the go, shopping, buying, exchanging, hanging decorations and just being busy doing "Christless" I mean-Christmas STUFF . A lot of RUSH, RUSH, RUSH. No time for reflection, amazement, wonder or thoughtful reflection!!! Don't get me wrong. I love Christmas and have longed for it during my busy fall schedule where I was gone basically every week. I'm not a grinch in any way but I felt like I have celebrated the birth of Christ much more the other 11 months than I did in December.
Christmas Eve Missy and I finished playing Santa about 12:00 and she went to bed. I decided to stay up and watch a "Live" Christmas special. The preacher was a guy from Dallas that I don't really care for but I felt the need to watch. Within minutes, hot tears streaked down my cheeks as I felt adoration, love, respect, fear, amazement and conviction of that most holy night. It dawned on me that I had been so tired and worn out that I had not been alone with God in 2 days. What a disgrace that I was so busy "doing" Christmas that I had neglected to stop and bow down in HIS presence.
I am fatigued of hearing how Christians need to rise up and take a stand by not saying "Happy Holidays" instead of Merry Christmas and boycotting stores that do. Not to mention the continuous battles over courthouse manger scenes!! I don't know of one person who has ever accepted Christ as a result of a Christmas or Easter display but I know of countless lives changed as a result of people willing to share their faith and reach out a hand to someone in need. How sad that our "Americanized" Christianity has boiled down to what James [the half brother of Jesus] calls faith without works!!!!! I'm convinced that if we are serious about keeping Christ as the focal point of Christmas that the best way to do it is by following Jesus words to love God, love others, help the hurting and needy and spend personal time worshipping him. I memorized over the holidays-excuse me- I meant Christmas-1st John 2:18 which says "Let us not love in word neither in tongue but in deed and in truth". Words, I am doing a poor job living by. However, God is not done with me. I am changing by HIS SPIRIT.
I realize that some of you may not appreciate my thoughts or agree with my convictions. Just remember I am a work in progress and need all the prayers I can get. If there is one thing God showed me the last 2 weeks, it is that I am not even close to being the man of God that I should be. I am not where I should be, but by the grace of God I am not where I was.
Lastly, Eugene and I are leaving for Austin and Houston this weekend where we will be preaching and meeting with a delegation of pastors to discuss doing large evangelistic outreaches. Would you ask God to anoint me, bring a harvest and give us favor with the pastors? Eugene will be doing the lion's share of explaining the specific details of what is necessary so don't forget to specifically remember him in your prayers. There is much at stake since these potential events could result in thousands hearing the Gospel.
I truly thank God for the hundreds of you all over this nation and other countries who subscribe to this newsletter and daily remember me and our staff in your prayers. We love and need you.
His manger is my Heart Jay Lowder