What’s YOUR Good News?

Our third son, Silas, turned nine on Sunday. Like pretty much all nine-year-olds, he was pretty excited it was his birthday. He was happy to talk about it and thrilled to get some gifts, his choice of supper, and his favorite (and my favorite) dessert – cheesecake. No one who spent any amount of time with Silas this past weekend would have failed to realize it was his birthday. He was too excited to hold in that good news!

Really, is this not the way it is for all of us? I do not mean that we all love and talk about our birthdays like children do. What I mean is that we all talk about exciting, good news. If something is important to us, we are compelled to talk about that something.

So, what is important to you? What good news are you sharing with others?

LIGHT

If you have believed and experienced the Good News – the gospel of Jesus Christ – then you will long to talk about this Good News. Advent – the Christmas season when we Christians celebrate the arrival of Jesus Christ our Savior and longingly anticipate His Second Coming – begins Sunday. Do those who know you see in you a love for the Christmas story, the gospel story? If you have placed your faith in Jesus, the answer is surely yes.

On Sunday morning, I will begin a new Advent sermon series – The Light Has Come. Jesus, of course, is the Light of the world, and He came to our dark world to bring salvation to all who turn to Him. In this series throughout December, we will be considering the Christmas story according to the gospel of John and challenging one another to respond rightly to the Light.

LIFE

If you respond rightly to the Light by turning away from your sins and trusting in Him for forgiveness and eternal life, is there any better news in all the world to share with others? What would a close examination of your life tell others about your greatest convictions, commitments, and passion? Is new life – eternal life – in and through Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, at the center of top of those priorities?

Again, I sincerely believe that if you have experienced new life, the answer surely has to be yes. When you have new life in Christ, you are either passionately talking about Him, or you are convicted that you need to be talking about Him.

How is your passion? What is your good news?

What I am MOST thankful for with Silas right now is his sincere search for the Truth. He asks a lot of great questions about Jesus and seems to genuinely desire to know and follow Him.

Are you impressed?

Thanks to a great internship with KIMT in 1999, I had the opportunity to stand on the sideline with a sports reporter for the Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions game on January 2, 2000. While I have been to NFL, NBA and MLB games before, standing on the sideline of a Vikings game has to be my favorite professional sports memory.

In fact, not only did I get to stand on the sideline and help that reporter, I got to go into the Vikings’ locker room after the game! I literally rubbed shoulders with Hall-of-Famer Cris Carter, my all-time favorite Viking, and got to hold a microphone in the face of Hall-of-Famer Randy Moss. I remember just being in awe of all of these superstars. No doubt I was starstruck.

Not surprisingly, though, none of those players ever hung out with me after that day. None of them invited me over for supper or came to my parents’ house for a visit. They continued their lives as if they had never even met me. Why? Well, because they did not and do not know me. We have no relationship.

Yes, I was quite proud of that day and have told many people over the years how I saw John Randle’s gargantuan arms up close and stood within a few feet of Randall Cunningham and Jeff George. I bragged about that day as if I had actually accomplished something, even though I had really done nothing of any significance.

Now, if some of those players had proceeded to visit me and become my friends, I would have really been able to impress people. Well, at least some people would have been impressed. It is highly improbable this will ever happen, though. Not only will I likely never see any of those players in person again, but they will likely never align themselves with me. They have no reason to do so.

Have you ever considered how amazing it is, however, that the God of the universe promises to be with those who know Him?! One of the names of Jesus the Son of God is Immanuel, which means “God is with us” (Matthew 1:23).

While you would likely be impressed if a famous football player regularly came to my house for supper, you are likely not impressed that God is with me all the time. He never leaves me, just as He promised. The reason this does not impress you is two-fold:

  1. I have done absolutely nothing to earn God’s presence. Rather, it is by His grace and mercy in and through His Son that I (or anyone) can know Him and experience His resulting presence.
  2. Experiencing God’s presence is available for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.

So, while this ought not impress you that God is with me, you certainly ought to be amazed and in awe of the fact that God would choose to be with any of us, me included. We are sinful people incapable of getting to God on our own, and so He came to us. This is the Christmas story, and it is the exciting message of Immanuel we are going through as a church on Sunday mornings.

Are you impressed? You certainly are not and should not be impressed with me, but I pray you are awe-struck by God and His love for you.

Merry or Materialistic Christmas?

Merry Christmas from the Drake family!I wish I could say that I am the epitome of a CHRIST-centered follower of Jesus. I wish I could tell you that in celebrating Christmas, I am focused on the coming of the King and not on the gifts can give (and get). Honestly, though, I have always struggled during this time of year. In fact, I struggle every time of the year. The struggle – to live a selfless life centered on the gospel rather than a selfish life of comfort and materialism.

More than ever, though, this year I am aware of this struggle. This year I am broken as I consider my sin. This year I am burdened as I consider how much I have and how little the vast majority of the world has. This year I am overwhelmed at how much money we spend on unnecessary gifts…temporary treasures. This year I am especially aware of the Advent – the coming of the awesome Son of God.

Do my gifts to Him matter as much as my gifts from others and for others? Does my time with Him matter as much as my time with family and friends? Does my devotion to Him supersede my devotion to this temporary life? Do my sacrifices for His sake outweigh my desire for ease and comfort?

Too often, the answer to those questions is no. Yet, I declare to the world that I am a follower of Jesus. I am a Christian. Jesus Himself said, however, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). Simple yet impossible. Lord help me!

I believe this overwhelming conviction and greater awareness this year is twofold. First of all, the Lord Jesus is at work in my heart and in my life. I have put my faith in Him for the forgiveness of my sins and for my eternal salvation, so He is doing a work in and through me. He is changing me like only He can. I am not a better person than I was last year, and I am certainly not a better person than anyone else. But, my Savior – He is better. He is perfect. He is the only One who can save and the only One who transforms lives. He is molding me into His image.

The other thing that has given me a greater awareness this year – my dad died four months ago Saturday. He was only 57 years old and had been, up until he was diagnosed with cancer less than two years before his death, a very strong and healthy man.Ring around the Rosy Growing up, I always believed the holidays were all about family. This year more than ever, though, I see how even family can be taken away. Even family, as we know it on this side of eternity, is temporary. Don’t get me wrong – I believe family is very important, but I also believe our hope and peace are not found in family. Only God gives hope and peace, as only His family lives eternally.

If you believe Christmas is all about family, you will be sorely disappointed in the end. Christmas is all about Christ. Family is all about Christ. If Christ is not central in your celebrations, in your motivations and in your conversations, then He is not your Lord. If He is not your Lord, then you are not His follower. If you are not His follower, then you are not a part of His family. If you are not a part of His family, you have nothing to look forward to after this life.

I plead with you seek the same gift that I am so challenged, burdened and overwhelmed to seek…the only gift that is eternal – the salvation of our God. This gift is found when we surrender to and follow Jesus. Follow Him. Only then will you truly have a merry Christmas and find the joy and satisfaction that a materialistic Christmas just can’t provide.

For more information on how you can have a personal, saving relationship with Jesus Christ, please click on the link below.

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