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Today’s Topic: How is your faith in Christ refreshed at Christmas?
This post is a continuation of yesterday’s post on how Christmas has changed for me this year. In yesterday’s post, I shared how this year, God has brought me back to celebrating the birth of Christ, despite having not celebrated His birth for the past several years because of the pagan origins of Christmas:
And I say, PRAISE JESUS!!! I thank God for those cardinals or popes or whoever it was who made this choice to Christianize a pagan holiday–if it means that for one month a year I am reminded to be a more giving person…if for one month a year I can hear songs about my Jesus while I’m grocery shopping, and it’s okay…if for one month a year my heart is even MORE focused on him and can rejoice in Him!
I praise Him. And I celebrate His birth, His life, and His working in my heart with joy.
I talked about the realizations that I came to that led me to this place.
But in reality, this wasn’t a decision. I didn’t wake up one day and decide, “Okay, this year is different, I’m celebrating the birth of Christ this time!”
It just happened…
Celebrating the birth of Christ this year has been not only a natural response, but the ONLY response I possibly could have to God after all He’s done for me this year.
I can’t NOT celebrate Jesus. I just can’t.
Where did this start? I’m not really sure. But somehow God chose this year–this time in my life to refresh my faith. He has lead me away from the chains of addiction, perfectionism, and legalism…and guided me gently into living a life filled with grace. I have filled post upon post with all of the tear-filled growth…well…I have grown through each post. With God leading me, I’ve cried, prayed, and written my way into freedom.
Yesterday, I was at the gym. I stepped on the elliptical to start my workout only to discover that my iPod was completely dead. Drat. I normally workout to country or pop music because it’s just easier to get motivated, but all I had was my iPhone. My options were Pandora or Youtube. I chose the latter. I went to my favorite videos and went straight to my new favorite song, Forever Reign.
I posted the lyrics to this song in my PWOC conference post and shared how it was highly instrumental in my break with legalism.
As I was “running” on the elliptical, the last seven-ten years of my life flooded my mind. Tears welled in my eyes and all I could think was PRAISE HIM! I’m finally free!
Free to worship…
Free to rejoice, because He’s “the reason that I sing.”
Free to be myself…knowing that “there’s nothing good in me,” but He loves me anyway.
Free to make mistakes…because He has “covered all my sin.”
Free to come back to Him…even when I wander away time after time.
Free to not let fear cripple me into living by rules in hopes of winning God’s favor…because He is peace.
Free to let go of all else but Him.
So what does all of this have to do with Christmas?
Before I left for the PWOC conference at the beginning of November, my husband and I had already decided that our time at our current (Independent Fundamental Baptist) church was about done. He was willing to visit the church where I attend MOPS again. I had visited this church over a year ago and really liked it, as I had been welcomed with loving arms even in the brief three or four weeks that I attended last November and December. But when Russ came back from Afghanistan, he wasn’t ready to make that kind of a move. We were both still clinging to the comfort of the denomination in which we were raised…clinging to conservatism, afraid of compromise. But after ten months, we just weren’t happy anymore. So we started attending elsewhere.
This church move has been exactly what I needed to continue to grow and experience a grace-filled life.
The pastor has been doing a Christmas sermon series based on a quote by Yale historian Jaraslav Pelikan:
“Jesus of Nazareth has been the most dominant figure in the history of western culture for almost 20 centuries. If it were possible, with some sort of super magnet, to pull out of that history every scrap of metal bearing at least a trace of his name, how much would be left?” (Jesus Through the Centuries, p. 1)
The first week I just kind of sat in awe as he briefly went through the last 2000 years of human history and touched on everything that Jesus has influenced. The weight of it all sunk in. Whether you worship Him as God or not, you have to recognize that Jesus changed the world. You can’t drive about five minutes without seeing something that relates to Him in some way.
And to think…that the most important, influential figure of modern history, yeah, THAT guy…He is mine. He loves ME. He knows ME. We have a relationship. Wow…
How can I NOT rejoice in the celebration His birth?
And so, this Christmas season, in spite of brokenness, I’ve chosen joy.
And every day He refreshes my faith. Through church. Through non-stop Christian Christmas radio where I’ve been blessed by songs I’ve never heard before like Francesca Battistelli’s song You’re Here. Through older favorite songs that bring me to tears and back to my knees.
Through friends and sisters in Christ at PWOC and MOPS. Through blog posts and conversations with Facebook friends and blog contacts.
He just keeps giving me reasons to rejoice.
You are good! You are good!
You are Love! You are Love!
On display for all to see!
You are Light! You are Light!
You are Hope! You are Hope!
You are Peace! You are Peace!
You are Joy! You are Joy!
You’re the reason that I sing!
You are Life! You are Life!
All creation will proclaim:
You are here! You are here!
You are God! You are God!
My heart will sing no other name…
Light of the World