The X-factor

X+4=7. Solve for X. Remember those algebra days? X is always the unknown. X represents the part that does not have a name or an identity.

The X-factor. The X-factor is the extra part of something. It makes a difference. Provides additional support or backing.

Sports teams know this well. Home field advantage is the X-factor. You can’t really see it. It is difficult to measure. But you can feel it. Its presence is almost tangible.

I live close to Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

lambeau field

The X-factor here is real. Sell-out crowds for every home game. Frozen Tundra.

Yes, the X-factor is a force!

The Word – X-factor

The Worth – We just celebrated Christmas. Or, for this post, Xmas. Why do we call it Xmas?

Here is some information from this website: https://www.vox.com/2014/12/14/7374401/jesus-xmas-christmas

“…the X in “Xmas” literally means Jesus. Allow us to explain.

How can the letter “X” stand for “Christ”?

In Greek, the language of the New Testament, the word Christos (Christ) begins with the letter “X,” or chi. Here’s what it looks like:

Χριστός

So how did that word get abbreviated?

In the early fourth century, Constantine the Great, Roman Emperor from 306-337, popularized this shorthand for Christ…”


Have you made the connection?

In our lives, Christ is the X-factor! He is that extra support. Reinforcement in troubled times. Life comes from him!

The Bible declares that the Holy Spirit dwells in the life of a believer. The very spirit of Christ lives in you and me!

Sure, we can’t always see it or measure it. But we can feel it. The presence of God is very real in our lives.

If Christ is the X-factor and the Holy Spirit lives in us then we become the X-factor!

The Work – There are many days that a believer won’t feel godly. In fact, feeling the opposite seems more true. But whatever you feel today, you are the X-factor.

Live by faith. Your feelings can not always be trusted. Christ will help.

I want to end with an encouraging verse. I Thessalonians 4:1-2

“As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.”

God bless you on your journey today. See you tomorrow for the letter Y!

 

 

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Feeling the pressure…

If you have been following me this year, you have been going through the alphabet with me. I call it Alphabet Soup. The first post of 2017 was on the letter A. You can read it here.

My math tells me that I could post every other week and that would get me to the letter Z by the end of the year. Well…I am only at U! Pressure!!!

No worries though. I am excited to finish this series so I can begin to look ahead to 2018.

And without further delay…

The Word – Underestimate

The Worth – The Christmas story can be found in Matthew and Luke. And it was in Luke’s writing that the inspiration for ‘underestimate’ hit me. Here is Luke 1:26-38:

“26In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” 34“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be calledb the Son of God. 36Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37For no word from God will ever fail.” 38“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.”

Dwell on this angelic visit for a minute. An angel comes to speak to Mary. Mary is probably around 15 years old. She has never had sex. She is also engaged. The angel tells her that God’s son will be born of her. I personally cannot fathom what types of thoughts were racing around in Mary’s brain.

I do know one thing though, Mary underestimated God. How do I know?

Let’s look at two verses.

Verse 29, “Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.”

Verse 34, “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 

Mary was questioning the purpose of God (v. 29) and the ability of God (v. 34).

Have you and I ever underestimated God?

Why is God doing this or that?

Why isn’t God moving?

Will you ever hurry up, God?

Why me?

And the list could continue.

We know the rest of the story. Mary did not, however. She questioned and the angel replied. Something happened in verses 35-37. And then we get to verse 38.

Mary comes around. She may still have doubts but her faith is bigger than her fear.

The Work – We need to come around like Mary.

I don’t always see the why, when, or how of God. And that is cause to be joyful.

I am not God! I do not have to know everything!

Be encouraged that God really does have everything under control. There is a current of Godliness that continually flows. It is an ever-moving river.

I say we jump in that river and enjoy God and what He is doing today!

can saying

 

 

A stone and it’s waves

Christmas time…celebrating a birth. The Christ child laid in a manger. The star showing the way. We all know the story, right? Hang on a minute and we will get to that very story.

But first…

Two weeks ago, I had a conversation with a good friend. It seems that every time we talk, something good comes from it. Thanks Nick!

One of the take-aways I had from the conversation was about influence.

We all have influence in our lives. Like a shadow covering the edge of the light, we don’t always see the influence we have on people. Why is that? Does God hide the influence so that we don’t see our total impact on people? Not really sure.

Imagine a stone. Now throw that stone into the water. What happens?

ripples

We have all seen it. The stone creates waves. Those waves are like influence. 

Some thoughts of mine regarding the stone and the waves:

  1. The waves all originate at the place where the stone entered the water.
  2. The waves are uniform in size and shape going out from the stone.
  3. The waves will continue until they hit the land.
  4. The stone, after creating the waves, sinks.
  5. The waves, once began, cannot be stopped, only redirected.
  6. Bigger stones make bigger waves.

Let’s bring this together now.

We are the stone. At least that is the way I feel that God designed us. We were made to splash! Waves of influence are the destiny to which we have been called. 

Will I let God toss me? Once I make that decision, God pulls back His mighty arm and lets go! Can you see Him throwing rocks?

Now that I have been thrown by God, my life is not my own. See Galatians 2:20.

Here is the catch, I am meant to sink. Rocks do not float.

I don’t mean sink as in fail. What I mean is that God uses a rock to create waves.

Waves equal influence.

Okay, back to the Christmas story. I want to recall a few “rocks” of historical note.

Mary.

Joseph.

The shepherds.

The Magi.

King Herod.

Baby Jesus.

If you look in the waters of our history, you can still see waves radiating outward from these rocks. 

God is using the influence of these rocks to impact you and me.

And it is about time we realize that we too, are making waves.

The choice is yours and mine to make. Let God throw you today!

Are you this one?

rock

Or this one?

ripples

 

 

 

MMXVI

It is Tuesday and I want to write a post.

My son and I went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I loved it but that is not what I am writing about.

star wars basic logo

Another part of me wants to tell you about my personal theme for 2016. You will have to wait until January 2016 for it.

theme pic

It is December so Christmas would be a good thing about which to write. I got nothin’.

sarcastic christmas

 

Around this time of year, I get reflective. What happened in my life this year? There were many great things and some not-so-great things. Don’t worry, I am not going to list them for you.

I think that what I am saying through all of this blubbering is that God is still God.

He never changed this past year.

He will still provide even if the economy tanks.

Job troubles? God see the sparrows so He certainly has his eye on you.

Still giving the devil a foothold? Let God guide your steps next year.


 

The cross of Jesus still holds power over sin.  

The name of Jesus still frees you from sin.

The blood of Jesus still washes away your sin.


 

So what does 2016 hold?

2016 Calender on the red cubes

2016 Calender on the red cubes

I don’t know. But…

I will put Jesus first and everything will either work out or not matter.

 

 

 

Yep, you can tell that I wrapped that one.

Almost every Christmas since we got married, we have had the fortune (blessing) of waking up on Christmas day at my in-law’s house. No, that is not an opening line to a joke. =-)

There is a tree and plenty of decorations. And of course, gifts. As a follower of Christ, I know that Christmas is about the birth of a savior and not the presents under the tree. I do my best to teach that to my family as well. But let’s be honest, I like getting stuff. My mother-in-law always asks me for my Christmas (and birthday) list. So I oblige her and write one out. =-)

christmas list

Generally, my wife will wrap the gifts for our two children and mine as well. I only wrap the ones for my wife and occasionally, some gifts for the other family members. It seems that every year, my father-in-law makes a comment about the wrap job on a gift. By now, it is really simple to tell which presents I wrap and which ones are wrapped by my wife. Getting those corners so crisp is near impossible for me. I think I use way more tape than necessary as well. Every time, my wrapping paper is not very good, and it is obvious.


Let me share another little story. On Sunday, I saw my friend at church. We have shared many life experiences and have grown together in the Lord. There was a book, Lessons from a Venetian Vinedresser by Robert Scott Stiner, that I had read. I passed it along to my friend. Both of us agreed that we should re-read it. It really is a phenomenal book. But, in the past six months I lost my copy of the book. So I ordered two copies, one for me and one for my friend. I gave it to him as church this past weekend. He was really surprised but very grateful to receive his own copy of the book. It was a great joy to be able to give it to him.

vinedresser book


Do you know what a mash-up is? Take peanut butter and chocolate and mash them together. What do you get?

Reese's-PB-Cups-Wrapper-Small

That makes a fantastically tasty mash-up!

So take my first story about not wrapping presents very well. Mash that story with the second one about giving the book to my friend. What do you get?

jesus in manger

Luke 2:7 says, “and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger,”

 

Jesus was a gift to the human race. God even had it wrapped! Sometimes I don’t feel worthy to accept the gift. Other times I just plain reject it. Sometimes I feel honored to have the gift. There are many moments when I feel I need the gift.

Whatever the case (my feelings being irrelevant), the gift has been offered to me and to you. It comes to us free of charge. Anyone can have it. You don’t need special credentials or status. Young or old; rich or poor, the gift is exactly the same for everyone. We are given the opportunity to unwrap the gift and then God can do the cleaning up. We don’t get right and then accept what God has done.

So, what gift will you be opening this year?