Tag Archives: advent

My daily reading included 1 Chronicles 4 today.  I am reminded of the power of the draw of "stuff"...and the Advent Conspiracy

Sometimes it is amazing what human beings can wrench out of 2 (two) verses.

Take Jabez.

Jabez (the place) is mentioned one time.

Jabez (ther man) is mentioned one time, in two verses:

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, "I gave birth to him in pain." Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request. (1 Chronicles 4:9-10)

Out of these two verses comes a theology of selfishness.

  • The Prayer of Jabez
  • Beyond Jabez
  • The Prayer of Jabez, 5th Anniversary Edition
  • The Prayer of Jabez Bible Study
  • The Prayer of Jabez:  Music
  • The Prayer of Jabez:  Video
  • The Prayer of Jabez:  Poster
  • The Prayer of Jabez:  Bible Pendant (14k gold)
  • The Prayer of Jabez for Women
  • The Prayer of Jabez for Women:  Video series
  • The Prayer of Jabez for Women:  Video series workbook
  • The Prayer of Jabez for Teens
  • The Prayer of Jabez: Devotional

There are two things that we know about Jabez.  He was honorable...and he wanted something.

How much do we want?

How much of what we want is "stuff"?

How different than Paul?

...that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death... (Phil 3:10)

Instead of praying for our own advantage, why not

That is the question...

There was a real St. Nicholas, so it's not like we're making anything up.  The challenge is to keep the day that we celebrate the birth of Christ - Christ centered.

Which is pretty hard to start with, when the day seems to be surrounding presents (stuff) and presence (people).

I would ask...what does the presence of Santa Clause add to the holiday?

Well...Santa could add the expectation of gifts (for me).  Materialism.

Or he could add the concept of giving without getting.  It is Santa who exists for giving with no expectation of getting gifts in return.

He could also introduce the concept of anonymous giving.   As "santa", we can slip a gift under the "giving tree" or slip a $20 into the Salvation Army bucket.

Giving without "your left hand knowing what your right hand is doing".

There is a different feeling in giving without others knowing.  Giving in secret makes it all about the recipient, without an expectation of a "payoff" (either physical or emotional).

Our church is participating in the "Advent Conspiracy"...No, it's not about Santa, and it's not about being anonymous.  It is about giving to those in need with no expectation of return.

Consider being about "giving with no expectation" this year...

I'm a little behind...

The Scripture:

  • Psalm 80:3
  • Isa 1:27-28
  • Psa. 80:19
  • Psa 51:15
  • Psa 70:1

Restore us, O God;

let your face shine, that we may be saved!

Zion shall be redeemed by justice,

and those in her who repent, by righteousness.

But rebels and sinners shall be broken together,

and those who forsake the LORD shall be consumed.

O Lord, open my lips,

and my mouth will declare your praise.

Make haste, O God, to deliver me!

O LORD, make haste to help me!

Restore us, O LORD God of hosts!

Let your face shine, that we may be saved!

Once, a long time ago, I sat in the balcony of a church during the Christmas season.  I was volunteering at my church's daycare and took a "timeout" for lunch and the quietest place was that balcony in the sanctuary.

I looked quietly at the giant wreath (horse-shoe) that nearly filled the front platform.  Yet what drew my attention was beyond that seasonal symbol.  It was the other symbol, the reason for His coming in the first place.

The stained glass cross, the sun shining through, was sending a kalidioscope of colors over the white ribbons on the wreath.

That has stayed with me for years...if we forget the "end game" - the cross - then Santa might as well be the reason for the season.

If the birth is not covered with blood, His blood, there is no reason to celebrate.