In Defense of Biblical Values

In last Sunday’s message I talked about the need for wisdom in knowing what issues are worth losing your life, your job, or just some sleep over. I proposed that we should be willing to die for our foundational beliefs, defend our biblical values, and discuss our personal preferences. Afterwards I was asked, “What are […]

The Secret of the Ugly Christmas Tree

I’m kind of a scrooge. I don’t like all the commercial aspects of Christmas. I don’t like all the presents (though I still gratefully receive them) and the cookies and candies (although I still gladly indulge in them). I’m not really into all the Christmasy decorations and stuff.

In fact, this is how bad it is. The people we bought our house from left lights strewn on the fence and in the shrubs. All I have to do is plug them in. But it just doesn’t seem worth the effort.

If it were just up to me, we wouldn’t even have a Christmas tree. I just don’t care. But I do have a wife and kids, so it’s not up to me. But I do insist that if we are going to get a Christmas tree that it be an ugly one. You know, a sort of “Charlie Brown tree.”

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Ugly Christmas Tree 2010

The first year we decided to do this, we went to the tree lot and I asked the attendant for the ugliest Christmas tree they had.

“The ugliest?” he attempted to clarify, in obvious disbelief.

“Yep,” I replied. “Give me the ugliest tree you have.”

“Huh. Nobody’s ever asked that before,” he responded, still trying to make sense of the situation.

But as he and I were still talking, his associate accepted the challenge and set out in search of my tree. Shortly thereafter, he came back with two scraggly looking trees.

“How ‘bout one of these?” he asked.

Now these two trees weren’t pretty, but they weren’t ugly. “That’s all you got?” I asked back. “You’ve gotta have something uglier than that.”

The two men looked at each other as if they were sharing a long-kept secret. Then the man I had been talking to motioned with his head to the other and he quickly took off as on a mission.

He came back quickly with the ugliest, scraggliest, most-pathetic excuse for a tree I’d ever seen. It was about four feet tall with only five or six almost-bare branches.

“That’s what I’m talking about!” I exclaimed. “How much?”

“Ten dollars,” the associate responded.

“Ten dollars?!” I echoed back, showing my displeasure with the price. “I’ll give you five.”

The two men looked at each other the way people do when they know they’ve been outwitted by a superior opponent. But the smirks on their faces were replaced when the associate cursed in disgust while the other laughed in response.

“What?” I asked, not understanding the hidden situation.

Then the man who had retrieved the prize responded, “I bet him $10 we wouldn’t sell this thing. You’re paying me five, but now I owe him ten.”

That was the beginning of our ugly Christmas tree tradition 17 years ago.

Continue reading “The Secret of the Ugly Christmas Tree”

3 Ways that God is Small

(This is the 4th and final post answering the question, “Is God Good?”)

Christians have the unique belief that God is both great and good. He is big and small at the same time. He is a great big God who actually cares about little ol’ me. Our God is neither uninvolved in creation, nor uninvolved in our lives. He didn’t create haphazardly without a direction or plan. Neither did He just set the world in motion and then leave us to figure it all out on our own.

The Bible teaches that not only is God big, but He is actually quite “small.” We see the bigness of God in the Trinity – He is so big that He cannot be contained in just one person. But it is also in the unique personhood of the different members of the Trinity that we experience His smallness.

Continue reading “3 Ways that God is Small”

Is God Good? (Part 2)

In my previous post, I asked the question: “Is God good?” If so,

How can a good God allow bad things to happen to good people?

The Bible teaches us that God is good. And we’d like to believe that He is.  But it’s the presence of suffering in our world that causes us to doubt.  It’s as if the presence of pain proves the absence of God’s goodness. Continue reading “Is God Good? (Part 2)”

5 Types of Relationships between a Church and its City

Babylonian exile
Nebuchadnezzar destroys the temple

Picture this scene: King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has attacked Jerusalem, defeated it, and taken captives back to Babylon to work as slaves. Now you have to understand that Jews thought that this could never happen. Jerusalem was God’s holy city where His temple and king resided. Babylon was the epitome of evil. As unthinkable as it is for us to imagine, say, Iraq conquering America and taking the vast majority of Americans back to the Middle East as slaves; that’s at least as unlikely as the nation of Judah thought about this happening. There’s just no way. But it did happen.

So now what?

Continue reading “5 Types of Relationships between a Church and its City”