Merry Christmas Starbucks!

The Gospel and the War on the War on Christmas

red cupThe War on the War on Christmas started early this year. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but a vocal minority of Christians have already begun to fight.

The so-called War on Christmas began a few years back when nativity scenes started being removed from public spaces and when the greeting “Merry Christmas” began to slip from civil and corporate parlance.

Some Christians began to take offense and someone labeled this cultural phenomenon a War on Christmas.

Let’s just get one thing straight: There is no War on Christmas.

Instead, there are millions of Not Christians who want to celebrate Not Christmas. Is that so hard to understand?

Are non-Christians required to celebrate Christmas in America? No.

Are Christians required to celebrate non-Christmas holidays in America? No?

So, what’s the problem?

To a small, misguided army of Christians armed with Facebook profiles and YouTube accounts the problem is red cups that aren’t wishing us a Merry Christmas.

As I see it, there’s an even bigger problem: The War on the War on Christmas.

Or, to put it another way, the problem is obnoxious people who claim to be Christians but wouldn’t know what it meant to be Christ-like if it slapped them on the face. (Hint: turn the other cheek.)

We are expecting too much if we want red cups to say “Merry Christmas”, public spaces to defend our faith, and darkness to shine like the light.

Instead, it’s supposed to be the other way around. Christians are to be a light in the darkness. We are to take the good news of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection and present this good news to people who are sinning and stand in in need of a loving and forgiving and compassionate Savior.

Our mission as followers of Jesus is to share and live out this glorious good news. To get sucked into the War on the War on Christmas is to dilute the power of the Gospel with 2/3 hot milk and a thin layer of foam.

To whom did Jesus ever say, “Follow me, and I will make you obnoxious in Starbucks cafes?”

To whom did Jesus ever say, “If you love Me, put nativities in public spaces and shout down anyone who asks for them to be removed.”

With all of that in mind, followers of Jesus are going to have to start the War on the War on the War on Christmas earlier than expected.

For me, the War on the War on the War on Christmas starts with this blog post written on my laptop at Starbucks…as I sip on a caramel brûlée latte…out of a godless red cup…A red cup that reminds me of the cup of God’s wrath that Jesus drank as He shed His own blood on the cross nearly 2,000 years ago…A red cup that reminds me that the red blood of Jesus was shed so that the lost could be found, the broken-hearted could be made whole, and ashes could be turned into something beautiful again.

Brothers and Sisters, we must not let the plain meaning of Jesus’ red blood be hidden by a misguided attack on a plain red cup.

So, to Christians and non-Christians, to liberals and conservatives, to Starbucks customers, employees, and owners, I say “A very merry Christmas to you and your families! I pray that the love of Jesus would be made known to you this holiday season!”

3 Reasons You Need To Know Jesus

What if Mark’s Gospel had been written as a series of blog posts? Here’s what he might have to say about Jesus based on Mark chapter one verse one.

gospel of mark

The Beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. – Mark 1:1

Everyone needs to know Jesus.

Why? Here are 3 reasons that come to mind:

1. Jesus is King

The word “gospel” means “good news”.

But not everyday good news. Like, “Gospel! My indigestion seems to be clearing up!”

More like, “Gospel! A king has been born.” Or, “Have you heard the gospel? Our king conquered the enemy army!”

The Problem of Choosing A Good Bible Translation

How do you find a good Bible translation? Well, it depends on what language you speak. If you speak English, I can recommend the Holman Christian Standard Bible. It’s my choice of the modern translations because it is accurate, it is readable, and it is not as theologically biased as some translations tend to be.

If you aren’t satisfied with my recommendation then I will happily point you to Mark Strauss and Gordon Fee’s book entitled, How to Choose a Translation For All Its Worth.

The problem of choosing a translation in English is a minor problem. If you grab an NIV or an HCSB or an ESV or even the older KJV you will be reading the Truth (just don’t fall into the trap thinking that The Message is a translation!). There are nuances where a word choice could have been more precise or might have captured the original meaning more clearly, but it’s a minor problem that is solved by careful exegesis of the text.

There are bigger problems to worry about.

Bible Translations Needed

What if you don’t speak English? Well, there are Bible translations in 4,516 languages. There are even some languages that also have numerous versions to select from, though I don’t know if it is to the extent of the selection in the English language.

My Response to a Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation

Recently, a group of former Southern Baptist Convention presidents, seminary professors and pastors released a statement on SBC Today called A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation. The Statement seems to be a genuine attempt to clarify a theological position on soteriology that is against Calvinism. However, unintentional or not, I think it does more harm than good.

According to Jerry Vines, a long time SBC pastor and evangelist and one of the statements signatories, there is no agenda to rid the SBC of Calvinists. He says, “I have no desire to run all Calvinists out of the SBC; I think it would be divisive and wrong. But, current attempts to move the SBC to a Calvinistic soteriology are divisive and wrong. As long as groups and individuals seek to force Calvinism upon others in the Convention, there will be problems.”

Ironically, I think this new Statement is also divisive and wrong. It is neither the traditional view nor is it Southern Baptist. Though perhaps unintentional, this Statement only serves to drive a wedge between Calvinists and non-Calvinists. Not even the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 (which I would argue is the traditional Southern Baptist Understanding) does that. I deeply respect Jerry Vines but you don’t lock arms with your brother to pursue the Great Commission together by telling him his views are not welcome or that they are divisive and wrong.

Good Friday > Earth Day

Today is both Earth Day and Good Friday. For some people, Earth Day is of primary importance. Others are only talking about Good Friday and think that people who celebrate Earth Day are pagan nature worshipers.

But maybe an emphasis on the cross and on creation is appropriate for a day like today. In Romans 8, Paul writes the following:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. For the creation eagerly waits with anticipation for God’s sons to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to futility-not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it-in the hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of corruption into the glorious freedom of God’s children. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now. And not only that, but we ourselves who have the Spirit as the firstfruits-we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. Now in this hope we were saved, yet hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees?  –  Romans 8:18-24 (HCSB)

The cross brings hope and the promise of healing to all of creation. The suffering, the corruption, and the futility we experience in the world is a direct result of the creation turning our collective backs on our Creator. It started with Adam and Eve’s first act of disobedience but every denial of God since then has contributed to the mess.