Growing Apologist

Becoming a Defender of Truth

Busy? 9 Ideas on Celebrating Advent

Advent

This is my favorite time of the year. I love all of the decorations, the music, the parties and the preparation. While it is my favorite, many times I find myself dreading it. There is just so much that gets done in such a short time, and it leaves little room for other things. Unfortunately, often times those said other things happen to be Advent celebrations. I know that this is the time to be slowing down and renewing myself in the joys of Christ. Yet instead of doing that, I cram as many Christmas parties, dinners, shopping, and baking in the four weeks leading up to Christmas that any mention of making time for reflecting on Jesus makes me want to scream.

In an effort to save the ears of those around me (and around you for that matter), I have put together this list of nine simple ways to fit Christ into that busy Advent schedule.

Arrive Ten Minutes Earlier to Church

Just ten minutes earlier, that’s all it takes. Arrive to church a little early and spend a little time on your knees. Or if it takes an act in congress to get the family out the door on time much less early, stay ten minutes later to tell Jesus happy birthday.

Incorporate Inspiring Bible Verses in the Outgoing Christmas Cards

The Christmas cards need to be written anyways, why not add a bible verse to it? This will not only give you a little time to ponder the great miracles of God, but will help the person receiving the card to consider Jesus as well.

Send an Extra Christmas Card to Encourage a Missionary

And while you are writing those Christmas cards to all your love ones, drop in one more to thank a missionary for their work for God. It takes a special kind of person to spread the works of God in a foreign land, and as the body of Christ it is good for us to encourage one another to continue in the footsteps of Jesus.

Have Dinner by Candle Light

Jesus is the light of the world. Simply turn off the dining room lights and eat by candle light in commemoration of Jesus. The change in the atmosphere will naturally draw your mind and heart to Jesus.

Spend Three Minutes a Day to Read Scripture from here

I don’t know about you, but I check my email three million times a day. Take a moment before you close the web browser to read a little scripture organized to inspire you this Advent. Click here for the site.

Take the Scenic Route drive to Admire Christmas Lights

Use the drive home to slow yourself down for a little bit by taking a short detour through a neighborhood to admire the beauty in Christmas lights. Let it remind you of the beauty that God created.

Say a Prayer for Every Gift Wrapped

It doesn’t have to be a rosary or a very long complicated prayer. A quick, ‘Lord be with this person this Advent’ and ‘Thank you for your Love Jesus’ should be sufficient to pull your heart to the Father.

Decide to Let Go of One Event

This is the hardest thing to do, especially if you are a Type A personality like me, but the reality is maybe you and I just need to say no to one Christmas party, dinner, or shopping spree and stay home to give God a little more time.

Give God a Gift

I don’t mean a physical gift, but a gift of the spirit such as something that you have been struggling with. An example could be praying for someone you don’t like, forgiving a person for upsetting you, or not getting angry for that person cutting into the checkout line in front of you.

Conclusion

Advent should not be a burden, but a great joy—a season to examine our lives and to prepare for the coming of Christ. However, too often we lose the focus of Advent and get caught up in all of the social and commercial trappings of Christmas. At this point, Advent seems to take the back burner instead of being foremost in our hearts. With these nine simple ways, we can turn that around just by adjusting our inner focus and mindset.

How have you been incorporating Advent into your life this season? Do you have any additional ideas to add to this list? Help spread the joy of the season and comment below.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas postcard date unknown, circa 1900.

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A Mathematician is to an Engineer…

… as a Theologian is to an Apologist

Square root of x formula. Symbol of mathematics.

This is an interesting thought. As an engineer, I’ve always thought the mathematicians are a little crazy.  I’m sure that the mathematicians think the same of the engineers.  But I digress already, before I have even begun.

In simplifying terms, a mathematicians world is A + B = C.  An engineers world is 1 + 2 = 3.  The mathematician is not only to learn the math, but to research it, expand on it, advance the knowledge.  They think in letters instead of numbers and in abstract thoughts.  An engineer needs to know the math as well, but they learn it as a tool not as the end itself.  They learn the math in order to apply it.

The Bible

So what in the world do mathematicians and engineers have to do with theologians and apologists?  What an excellent question.  My first impulse– theologians are kind of crazy.  Oh wait, digressing again.  It seems to me that the theologian is similar to the mathematician, in that they not only learn the theology, but research, expands, and advances it, and possibly even thinks in abstract thoughts.  And the apologist?  Well I think you know where I am going with this.  Let’s just say, I’m becoming more and more fond of apologists all the time.

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Jesus, Bring the Rain

My family has just made it through an ordeal, one that I don’t wish to describe here in detail.  This is for their sake because while I do play a part in that story, I’m not really a main character in it and so it is not my story to tell, beyond the fact that it was a true struggle and involved financial stability.  During this struggle, it truly gave me an appreciation for my past and for my own struggles that I went through as I wrestled like Jacob with God years ago.  It imparted on me some understanding of the purpose behind the suffering.  God did not create us to suffer, but starting with the choices that Adam and Eve made, suffering came into the world by our own free will. 

It is not an easy lesson to learn or to accept, but I think that without learning this lesson, one cannot be granted peace in every circumstance.  Now obviously I have not really learned this lesson, because while like the song ‘Bring the Rain’ from Mercy Me, my soul cries ‘I am Yours regardless of The dark clouds that may loom above’, I still struggle with ordeals and suffering.  I still haven’t learned to cast all my burdens to the Lord, and I worry and fret over my family and mine circumstances.  But every test that the Lord brings before me, either the tests that I personally experience or the tests that my family and friends go through, it imparts on me a little more understanding, and a little more wisdom.  It is this that I seek to remember, when I am presented with a new challenge of discomfort.  Like a ton of bricks, the song lyrics from Mercy Me hit me on my way to work this morning, and it was something that I wanted to share with you.

I hope too that you my readers also learn this lesson at the pace that the Lord grants you and that in your suffering you can learn to turn to God and give him your trust. 

‘Bring the Rain’ by Mercy Me
I can count a million times People asking me how I Can praise You with all that I’ve gone through The question just amazes me Can circumstances possibly Change who I forever am in You Maybe since my life was changed Long before these rainy days It’s never really ever crossed my mind To turn my back on you, oh Lord My only shelter from the storm But instead I draw closer through these times So I pray

Bring me joy, bring me peace Bring the chance to be free Bring me anything that brings You glory And I know there’ll be days When this life brings me pain But if that’s what it takes to praise You Jesus, bring the rain   I am Yours regardless of The dark clouds that may loom above Because You are much greater than my pain You who made a way for me By suffering Your destiny So tell me what’s a little rain So I pray Holy, holy, holy  Is the Lord God Almighty

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Keep Your Fork!

I used to love to write. I would write about mages, wizards, dragons, swords and chivalry. I would create stories about young rising prophets learning to master their ability and queens from humble origins thrown into their position of authority by necessity. I would weave tales of vampires falling in love with humans, and slayers who discover that maybe vampires were not a thing of evil. I would write about dragons trying to save their own kind from wrongful accusations and about a great society of underground elves who just want to find their way back to the surface.

Only once did I write about real life. It was shortly after my great grandmother’s death. My story on the surface was about her funeral and standing in the cold, but underneath it told the tale of how troubled I was. My grandmother had been an amazing woman, or at least that was what I had always been told. Hunting and camping and full of life. To me, she had always been a quiet old lady who couldn’t see or hear but was patient and smiled easy. Even at the time of her death, it had been unclear whether she had been a Christian. The pastor went on with his beautiful, solemn homily, and we listened to those words, and watched as the cold earth embraced her coffin.  The quiet words of the pastor speaking about ‘walking in the shadow of death but fearing no evil’ echoed in my mind as I tried to stomp my frozen toes back to life.

My story of her funeral was not a happy one. As I pondered on her death, I also pondered on the kindness of God to people like my grandmother–those good, kind people who may or may not believe in God. I questioned the existence of heaven and the likelihood of people making it to the pearly gates. That story marked the beginning of my quest for truth.

I remember my story being selected in English class to be read to the community at the local art museum. Schools all through the valley selected one or two kids to read piece of their work. My story was the last one to be read. I remember standing up on the stage, listening to my voice crack in the microphone as I tried to remain composed while reading to the community my questions of God’s grace. Then afterwards the coordinator came up to me with congratulations. “I always put the piece I think is the best last,” she told me.

That was the last piece I wrote. Life was full of turmoil after that as I tried so desperately to find myself. There was pain and suffering in growing up.  A lot of hard lessons learned.  But after I hit the bottom, God’s grace pulled me out.  He rebuilt me slowly after I was torn down by my own doing.  It has taken me some time, but I am slowly coming to terms with my past and what I’ve been through.  As I learn more and more about God and His grace and more importantly, Jesus’ great sacrifice as the Lamb of God, I have come to a better understanding of where I have come and where I am going.  But most importantly, I have learned to keep my fork, because there are better things to come.

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