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    Elders' Blog - Entries from December 2016

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    WedWednesdayDecDecember14th2016 Would You Be Happy?
    byDrew Humphrey Tagged Christmas Holidays 0 comments Add comment

    I’ll never forget the first time I read this question posed by John Piper: “Would you be happy in heaven if God were not there?”

    I found that to be an uncomfortable amount of conviction jam-packed into 11 words.

    Think of everything you anticipate about heaven: freedom from sickness and pain, reunion with loved ones, mansions with lavish furnishings, unlimited golf. It’s all wonderful stuff, right? But where does God himself rank among those things? Piper goes on to explain it this way in his book God Is the Gospel:

    Christ did not die to forgive sinners who go on treasuring anything above seeing and savoring God. And people who would be happy in heaven if Christ were not there, will not be there. The gospel is not a way to get people to heaven; it is a way to get people to God. It’s a way of overcoming every obstacle to everlasting joy in God. If we don’t want God above all things, we have not been converted by the gospel.

    Recently I was reminded of Piper’s question as I reflected on the holidays. I was pondering the things I cherish about this season, and I found myself asking this slightly altered version of what Piper had asked: “Would I be happy during Christmas if Jesus had not been born?”

    Equally convicting. (But this time, 12 words.)

    I love the traditions of Christmas. I love the lights and the music and the family gatherings and the gifts and the general sense of charm. But what if I could hold on to all of that magical holiday wonder, while only giving up that one little thing called the incarnation? What if all my days could be merry and bright and all my Christmases could be white, just without any Jesus in any of them?

    I know the theologically correct answer to this question. I should shout “No!” at the top of my lungs and point emphatically at my “Jesus is the reason for the season” bumper sticker. But I know my heart too well. And I fear that I’d actually be pretty content enjoying all the trappings of Christmas even if it meant not having a baby in the manger.

    The problem is that we sinners have a constant tendency to take those things that are meant to point us toward God, and instead we turn them into our god. Unfortunately, that tendency doesn’t disappear at Christmas. Even the most Christ-centered tradition can eventually morph into an empty idol if we’re not careful. And before we know it, we may find that Jesus could disappear from our celebrations altogether, and we’d never even notice.

    This Christmas, my goal is that when January 1 rolls around, I’ll not be able to say, “None of that would have been any different had Jesus been removed from the equation.” This doesn’t mean that I need to go home and tear down my Christmas tree or rip the lights off my front porch. It doesn’t mean that I need to boycott the department stores or take back my gifts. It simply means that whatever I do, I need to do it intentionally and worshipfully.

    G.K. Chesterton notes, “The great majority of people will go on observing forms that cannot be explained; they will keep Christmas Day with Christmas gifts and Christmas benedictions; they will continue to do it; and some day suddenly wake up and discover why.” This is indeed true. But those of us who know Jesus should have already woken up. We should already know why. The key is not to forget it.

    Merry Christmas, everyone!

    WedWednesdayDecDecember7th2016 Metaphors That Matter
    byAbraham Cremeens Tagged Encouragement Songs 1 comments Add comment

    Images are important. They are powerful communication tools that often leave indelible marks on us. There is a reason crowds flock to art museums year after year. We connect to what we see. We are visual people.

    God knows this and uses this to help us grasp key truths about him and life. For instance, the word “rock” doesn’t particularly speak volumes to me. However, when God is described as a rock, suddenly key spiritual truths strengthen my soul. Another popular one is the word shepherd. Even though the profession is lost on our modern culture, “the LORD is my Shepherd” continues to serve as a long held image of God that comforts his people in many ways.

    Song writers have long understood the power of metaphor. God guided the psalmists in such a skill. Some of our oldest hymns utilized metaphor. And our modern songs do the same.

    Two metaphors have recently grabbed my attention from the songs we sing as a church family.

    First, in the 1700s, Robert Robinson wrote a dearly loved hymn, Come Thou Fount. The words that have long had my attention are “prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.” It’s true for me. I have a propensity to sin. My heart often, too often, leans toward autonomy and selfish ambition. But it is the metaphor Robinson uses prior to this phrase that has recently come on my radar, “fetter.”

    I didn’t know what a fetter was, so I looked it up. It’s a chain, often used in prisons, to contain someone. I think of a ball and chain. These are negative images in my mind because I am constrained to something I don’t want to be, i.e., a prison cell. But what if what I’m fettered to is something (or rather someone) grand and wonderful. Since I am so prone to wander and leave, then being fettered (chained) to God’s goodness and mercy is a wonderful image for me to cling to day in and day out.

    A second metaphor is in the song we introduced recently, Christ the Sure and Steady Anchor by Matt Boswell. I had heard the song several weeks prior and it struck me as one to grab onto. But the song had a greater impact for me the Sunday morning we introduced it.  Later that night I found myself in one mean storm, actually multiple storms. It seemed like everything that could go wrong was going wrong. While in the midst of that storm and chaos for a few days, the phrases of that song kept going through my mind, almost on repeat. It was what I needed. It gave me hope in the midst of crisis because I was reminded that he is an anchor to me.

    Now, I know I’m not special. I know that my troubles are common to you as well. Some of you have walked through pain and suffering not just for days, but for decades. My question to all of us, though, is, “What metaphor are you holding onto this week?” What picture, or image, helps you grasp a truth about God that you can, and need, to hold onto? Are they in the songs you sing? I hope so.

    What do you think? Does this remind you of a favorite metaphor that God has used to help you trust him more? I’d enjoy hearing it if you do. Please comment below if so.

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