The Wonderful Message Of Christmas — And Why People Work So Hard To Obscure It

2015 ChristmasI personally know many non-Christians who just love Christmas. They’ll decorate their homes to the hilt, send out beautifully illustrated year-end newsletters wishing people peace and joy, and maybe even put up a cute nativity scene as an homage to the story of the first Christmas.

For them, Christmas is primarily about brightly wrapped presents, feasting on scrumptious food, and parties. Songs mentioning benign infants lying in mangers must be supplemented with other songs about jingling bells and an obese elf from the North Pole who sees us when we’re sleeping. And then there are the infamous office parties and their accompanying innuendos about who was nice and naughty.

Most of all, they’ll declare that Christmas is about children. Not so much about a specific Child, although some might give Him an obligatory nod, but children and their sense Continue reading

Flashback Friday: Displaying The Pearl

Originally posted November 24, 2015:

All humans love the idea that we have something inherent in ourselves that pleases God. We firmly believe we bring something to the salvation table. In dealing with the presumption that we can contribute to our salvation, I’d like you to think of Jesus as a perfect Pearl. (I love pearls.) That image, of course, should remain limited to the analogy I present here–I don’t mean to start a new teaching about Jesus being a Pearl! But consider, for this moment, how your life would best show off His beauty. What about you best displays Him?

Perhaps you might immediately think of your good deeds. You’ve given to charitable causes, worked in Christian ministry, raised relatively well-behaved kids, driven elderly neighbors to doctor appointments, sent Christmas cards every year, all while maintaining good health habits to show everyone that you know your body is the temple of the Lord. Your organization and efficiency dazzles everybody. How much you do for Him.

Against such a backdrop, the Pearl can be seen, but you compete with Him for attention.

Or maybe He’s given you talents, such as a good singing voice or the ability to paint beautiful landscapes. Your blog has over 500 followers, most of whom gush endlessly over your knack for “turning a phrase.” Your signature cherry pie is always requested at church potlucks, or people flock to the women’s Bible Study you lead because your sense of humor is legendary. How creative you are for Him!

Against such a backdrop, the Pearl can be seen, but you compete with Him for attention.

Ah, but it’s possible that your piety impresses Him. You were a virgin until your wedding night, and would never flirt with anyone but your husband. You have filters on your computer, you refuse to be alone (even in an elevator) with a member of the opposite sex, and you don’t buy underwear at Victoria’s Secret. Furthermore, you avoid products that exploit workers in Third World sweat-shops, you never drink so much as a glass of wine, and you would  never dream of jay-walking…even in downtown Boston. How moral you are for Him!

Against such a backdrop, the Pearl can be seen, but He barely shows up against your image of purity. Consequently, His glory becomes almost indistinguishable from your own. Once again, you compete with Him for attention.

Actually, I see my own attention-grabbing attitudes in all three of these pictures. Hopefully, you see yourself as well. If we choose these backdrops of self-righteousness, we may convince ourselves that we best display the Pearl, but the reality demonstrates otherwise. As long as we claim anything good about ourselves, we minimize the Lord’s role as Savior.

Jesus is a Pearl, not because our “goodness” displays Him, but because He turns our wickedness into a backdrop for His mercy, grace and love.

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I Sure Need Something Greater Than All My Sin

Let’s see. In the past few days, I’ve written an article with too harsh of a tone, yelled at nurses who treated me as if I’m intellectually disabled and gotten angry at a RIDE driver. All this while complaining about how rotten I feel from RSV.

It’s official, folks: Deborah Kespert is a wretched sinner.

Praise the Lord that Jesus paid for every one of my sins when He died on the cross! While His grace doesn’t give me license to sin (indeed, it calls me to repentance and holiness), that same grace wonderfully covers my sin, enabling me to stand before God without condemnation. I celebrate His  grace precisely because I know I need it.

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What Do You Sing About?

One Personal Care Attendant of mine, upon hearing my attempt to sing, sweetly suggested that I stick to my writing and digital art. I had to agree.

But I do sing in my heart, as well as out loud in church, without reservation. The Lord has given me cause to sing His praises, not to fancy myself a gifted singer, but to express the joy of His love for me. Who cares that I can’t carry a tune or properly enunciate the words? The focus belongs on my Savior.

My song shall ever be about Jesus. He alone deserves the attention and glory because He is marvelous and wonderful!

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I Didn’t Do Anything

How many times have you heard your kids object to discipline by protesting, “I didn’t do anything,” when it’s all too clear that they’ve done something wrong?  How many times have you made the same declaration?

We all want to escape personal responsibility.

Yet when we do something right (or appear to do something right), we do our best to make sure people know about it. In those cases, we’re perfectly happy to claim as much responsibility as we possibly can. Especially when it comes to our salvation.

But the truth humbles us as we see Christ’s complete mastery over our salvation. From beginning to end, He provides the grace. He even gives us the ability to believe in Him! As a result, He receives all the praise and glory. We didn’t do anything!

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1517 Was Cool And All, But What Does It Have To Do With Me?

Ancient ScriptureLeslie A left a comment on yesterday’s blog post stating that her articles on the Protestant Reformation were also pretty much ignored by her readers. Okay, so I have assurance that my writing skills weren’t the reason my Reformation articles went over like a lead balloon.  There’s a modicum of comfort in Leslie’s comment, weird though that may  be.

I love my blogger friends!

As I thought about her comment (or more accurately, the apathy toward history that seems to characterize most people in our century), I couldn’t help wondering if the self-absorbed nature of our post-modern culture has something to do with it. Sure, we’re concerned about the myriad of problems in today’s church.  After all, that’s the church we Continue reading