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The Paralyzing Power of Fear

How many times do we make wrong decisions because of fear?

Joseph
and Mary are engaged. Mary is pregnant. Joseph decides to dump her.
Then the Lord appears to him in a dream and says, "Joseph, son of
David, DO NOT BE AFRAID
to take Mary home as your wife…" (Matt 1:18-21)

God dealt with the real issue that was pushing Joseph to make a bad decision – FEAR. 

How
many times do we make bad decisions because we are afraid of of what
people will think, afraid of how much it will cost, afraid we might
fail?

I don't really do new years resolutions, but if I did, I'd resolve not to listen to fear in 2010. What about you?

Christmas Blog: Sometimes God’s Will is Kinda Scary

To get in a Christmas
state of mind, I watched The Nativity movie last night. Love the way
Mary & Joseph seem like normal people – with questions, doubts
& fears just like the rest of us.

Why are Jesus, Mary,
Moses and other Bible characters usually depicted as hyper-spiritual
glow-in-the-dark white-robed weirdos in Hollywood movies?

I don't think real spirituality looks anything like those movies. I think
it's more like The Nativity. Here's one of my favorite scenes:

Mary: You've never really told me of your dream.
Joseph: My dream?
[pause, he is teasing her and also contemplating his response]
Joseph: No.
Mary: Please, tell me.
Joseph: An angel came to me. He told me the child within you had been conceived by the Holy Spirit and that I should not be afraid.
Mary:Are you afraid?
Joseph:Yes. [laughing]
Joseph: Are you?
Mary:Yes. Do you ever wonder when we'll know?
Joseph: Know what?
Mary:When he is more than just a child. Will it be something he says? A look in his eyes?
Joseph: I wonder if I will even be able to teach him anything.

Sometimes, maybe all times, God's will is kinda scary. How about you, every been afraid of God's will?

Bethel’s A Christmas Carol

At first glance, a parable about a
rich man who is tormented in hell seems like a bizarre choice for a
Christmas text. But, when you really think about it, well, it still
seems like an odd choice.
 

That’s why you’ve probably never heard a Christmas message preached from Luke
16:19-31, and probably never will – unless you attend Bethel tomorrow. 
 

Before I try to explain tomorrow's sermon, here’s my quick review of Bethel’s A Christmas Carol series…

 

Week 1: Ghost of Christmas Past.
We don’t have to be chained to our past. If we repent and forgive, the chains fall off.

 

Week 2: Ghost of Christmas Present.
Richer does not equal happier. Like Scrooge, lots of people are bound
by chains of materialism and live self-absorbed empty lives. But they
have really nice cars and clothes.

 

Week 3: Ghost of Christmas Future.
I don’t know if Charles Dickens intentionally copied the Parable of the
Rich Man and Lazarus, but his Christmas Carol has some interesting
similarities with the Bible story:

 

    – Rich man, poor man contrast

    – Rich man tormented in hell

    – Rich man wants someone from grave to warn his brothers

    – Scrooge visited by someone from grave (Jacob Marley)

 

Verse 26 is the heart of the parable and the central point of my Christmas message:

“between us and
you a GREAT CHASM has been set in place, so that those who want to go
from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.”


We’ve all experienced the separation between God and man, this GREAT
CHASM in the parable. We’ve felt it. We’ve tried to fix it. We know
that chasm is real. And it is huge.  

 

Isaiah 59:1,2 described the chasm like this:

Surely the arm of
the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But
your iniquities have SEPARATED you from your God; your sins have hidden
his face from you, so that he will not hear.

 

Separation. Great chasm. That’s the problem. What’s the solution, and what does this have to to with Christmas?

 

Find out tomorrow at
Bethel-Brentwood 9:00, 10:30 & 12:00.

Good News

“What do you give a person who has everything?” In this Christmas series, Steve Murrell shares the most important thing that we can give to God who owns the world and everything in it and encourages us to get busy thinking about what we can give rather than what we can get out of this Christmas season. Merry Christmas!

Top 10 Christmas Movies

Getting in the Christmas spirit is easy in the Philippines, because we
hear Christmas music and see Christmas decorations starting in
September. So, for those of you not in the land of eternal Christmas,
who need help getting into the spirit of the season, I suggest watching
a Christmas classic. Here are my current top 10:


10. Jingle All the Way (1996) – Sinbad goes postal.

9. Die Hard (1988) – Some doubt this is a C'mas movie, but the whole thing took place during an office Christmas party.

8. White Christmas (1954) – I'm still dreaming.

7. Elf (2003) – Opening scene with Sr Elf, Bob Newhart, reading the intro story is worth the price of the DVD.

6. Home Alone (1990)- The "Wet Bandits" are some of the best bad guys ever.

5. Christmas in Connecticut (1945) – Black and white classic that never gets old.
 
4. The Nativity Story (2006) – The REAL story of Christmas.

3.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
(1965) – A new addition to my list. Had not
seen this one for about 30 yrs, until last year. Wish they still made
them like this. Special bonus: one of my fav soundtracks ever.
Schroeder plays a mean piano.

2. Miracle on 34th Street (1947) – another B&W classic. The color version does not make my top 10.

1. It's a Wonderful Life (1946) – THE Christmas classic of all Christmas classics.

What's on your list?

Thanksgiving ’09 Top Ten List

Thanksgiving. America's national day of gluttony. And football. And family reunions.
I'm visiting the family – brothers & sisters, in-laws, cousins – at the Murrell family lake house in Mississippi.

Here’s my 2009 top ten Thanksgiving Day list:
 
1.   My Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ
2.   My wife
3.   My 3 sons
4.   My parents – both deceased
5.   My friends all over the world – mostly alive
6.   My home churches – Victory-Manila, Bethel-Nashville
7.   My job – Every Nation Churches & Ministries
8.   My U.S. passport
9.   My Philippine Permanent Resident card
10. My 1200GS – finally!
 
What are you most thankful for?

© 2012 Steve Murrell

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