Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category


A little bit of Christmas math & statistics:

The chances you will get murdered in USA: 1 in 8,000
The chances of dating a super-model: 1 in 88,000 (Although I got that one… and I married her)
The chances of being stroke by lightening: 1 in 576,000
The chances of an American male being Tom Cruise: 1 in 150,000,000
The chances of winning the 500 MegaMillons: 1 in 176,000.000

The chances of a 1st century Jewish boy being born in the same place that a 700 year-old ancient manuscript promised for the Messiah: 1 in 280,000

The chances of a 1st century Jewish 30 year-old riding a donkey entering into Jerusalem, as promised by a 500 year-old ancient manuscript promised for the Messiah: 1 in 100

The chances of a man of the time keeping quite as he was being beat and torn, as –you guessed right, promised by a 700 year-old ancient manuscript: 1 in 1,000

The chances of five more specific prophecies foretold 200-1000 years earlier being all-together fulfilled by one man: 1 in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

What are the chances then, of the same God who directed these and many other prophecies and delivered the promises so accurately and exactly, about Messiah’s city of birth, time in history, family etc, on being faithful to what He promises to you?

That if you choose to accept He was real, walked on this earth, was the son of God and a man at the same time;
That He died on a cross to pay for your sins –past, present and future;
That He resurrected like no other man ever has –to prove He was and is God in human body;
That He wants to bless you, protect you, love you, forgive you and use you in His mega plan;
That He can be as real counselor, friend, companion and support here and now;
That He can provide for your needs, make the best of any situation, heal you and speak to you through His Word;
That He will love you and accept you even when you fail –He in fact will forgive you and restore you;
That no matter whether you are an atheist or a church leader, He can take you, right where you are, and make of today, a brand new day?

It’s not rocket science. The odds are in your favor. BELIEVE!.

Merry Christmas!


Say-No-Christmas_Jesus4Would Jesus respond to a “happy holidays” with a stern “Merry CHRISTmas!”?

I was thinking, would Jesus be so adamant and combatant, as some Christians today are, in reference to the Happy Holidays & Merry Christmas?

Think about it. Although obviously there was no Christmas celebration in Jesus’ days, there was The Passover.

The Passover, unlike our Christmas celebration, was actually instituted and commanded by God himself (Exodus 12). The Passover, unlike our Christmas, was not a Christian adaptation or application of a Biblical idea, to an already existent pagan tradition. The Passover was actually a commemoration -to-the-date, of an exclusive and unique Jewish celebration. In fact, The Passover was not only a remembrance of an event 1,300 earlier, but a prophetic picture –a shadow, of Jesus Christ himself (1 Corinthians 5:7).

There were also, two major groups of religious people who celebrated The Passover in different times. The Pharisees were a more conservative group that tended to follow the scriptures literally, believed that a day began with sunrise, and celebrated The Passover first (see Matthew 26:18-20).

The Sadducees, on the other hand, were a more liberal non-miracles believing group of priests, calculated days from sunset to sunset, and therefore celebrated The Passover the next day (see John 18:28).

Now, I could be way off in my conclusion, but, think about this. There is a group of people who are celebrating a God-ordained-Jesus-symbol holiday the wrong day, and we don’t have record of Jesus giving them a hard time or correcting them. He just observed it himself and didn’t make a big deal about it.

How much less should we perhaps care, for a Christian-man-adapted-to-pagan-tradition?

Please don’t get me wrong. I like Christmas. The gifts, the lights, the days off, family time, the food, and on and on…. But most than anything for the great opportunities it brings to show and tell others about Christ (our most important goal). However, when we take a defensive or hostile position towards a presumably anti-Christian or anti-Christian action (undeniably more prevalent in this growing secularized society), are we reaching people for Christ? Are we mending bridges and sowing relationships that will lead to opportunities to witness? Or, are we just fighting and –at best winning a battle, at worst losing a war?

With our attitude and “Merry Christmas” or “happy solstice”, are we bringing the cashiers, clerks and waitresses closer to a relationship with God? or farther away from Him?

Whose battle are we fighting?


And I’m not referring to the lights and the gifts and the hot chocolate, or even celebrating Jesus birthday. Although those might be great, I think there is a far more practical reason December is the happiest season of all.

its-the-most-wonderful-time-of-the-year-smallI think this is the season that best lends itself for us to be Christians. Throughout the year we have heard countless messages, sermons and Bible studies reminding us and encouraging us to believe in Jesus, to read and study scriptures, to pray continually, to obey His commandments, to love our neighbor, to tithe and give to the needy, to serve and help others. Throughout the year, we’ve been given practical applications to love our spouses, fellowship daily with God, manage our time wisely, surrender fruitless additions and activities, share the Good News with others, and to stand fearless against adversities.

However, acting upon our beliefs is where the rubber hits the road. Weather you believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit or gift of tongues or whether you are more in the “you’ve got all the spirit at conversion” side of the discussion, I am sure we all can agree with this quote:

Sometimes It takes more Holy Spirit to help with the dishes than to pray…

The Christian life God wants us to live; the Christian life the outsiders are going to be truly influenced by, is a life that both, understands the ‘saved by grace’ identity through a deep relationship with God on a daily basis through prayer and Bible study, and –as a result, acts.

And Christmas season is a perfect time to act because:

–          Giving is on the air. It is not too awkward to give to a waitress a high tip, pay for someone’s dinner or giving practical gifts to foster kids, instead of unnecessary expensive gifts to our own kids (or ourselves). What better season to practice the famous “random acts of kindness”.

–          People are open to kindness, which is an opportunity to, not only pray for people in secret, but pray for them and with them face to face, in the workplace, streets of anywhere else.

–          No other topic in scriptures has more resources (books, advent devotionals, movies, youtube videos etc) available as the Christmas story, which can make it a bit easier for us parents to study and teach the Bible to our kids –and learn ourselves in the process, about Jesus and salvation.

–          You can even use the “12 days of Christmas” excuse, to do special simple but profound acts of love and service to your spouse. Night talks, dates, a rose in her nightstand, back rubs, kitchen clean up, oil change….. your imagination is the limit.

–          Put all of these together, and a few more, and you have a whole set of activities and actions you can take to serve and love others and use these acts of kindness as vehicles to tell others about who Jesus is and what The Gospel means for them; the best way to witness and share our faith with others.

The greatest result, if you take these areas and ideas and come up with your own customized plan, and executed it during December, by the last day in New Years Eve, you will have a great head-start on ‘resolutions’, as you would, not only be focused on things that do matter, and have experienced them, but you would also already have some ‘habit practice’ built-in (they say that if you do something for 21 days, it is more likely to stick with it)… you will have some momentum going -which some argue decides 80% of the success for new year’s resolutions. Imagine if you could live life doing these type of acts, not only on December, but throughout all 2013?

It may not work, but it might. Only giving it a try will tell… and I think it is well worth it. You may say at the end, with a whole new meaning, that December the most wonderful time of the year!


A few weeks ago I was talking to someone who had a lot of questions about Christianity and he asked me: “If God knew we would fall, why did He create us in the first place? It was a great question to which my answer was: “because He wanted us to love Him back”. See? I could command my kids to greet me upon entering the door with a big smile and warm and heartfelt “daddy is home!” and threaten them that if they don’t, I will discipline them. However, the beauty and ‘pricelessness’ (yes, new word) of this act of expression of love from them is that I don’t have to ask them; they do it every time I come home –from their own free will and love for me. That’s how a regular human father would do it; love not coerced but freely offered. How much more our heavenly father who is truly sovereign, powerful and loving?

However, true love cannot happen if a choice to obey or disobey is not available and equally doable.
Time and time again we read of God calling people to turn to him, to respond to his call, to humble themselves, to repent and to put their faith in Him, because that is the very only way to be saved; no one person can earn their salvation through works. It is only through faith by His grace.
Time and time again we read of some who humbly respond to that call from God;
Time and time again we read of others who choose not to respond to God’s call.
Time and time again we read of God desiring everyone to be saved, but never forcing anyone into that salvation he so heartily desires, but so sovereignly respects.

We all have disobeyed, do disobey, and will disobey God’s protective rules and laws (Rom 3:23). Still, He chose , before the foundation of this world (Ephesians 1:4), to graciously forgive us by taking upon himself the penalty of our disobedience (Isaiah 53) so that we can, in return, out of thanksgiving, chose to obey Him –to freely and willingly love Him. This act of taking upon himself the penalty of our sin started in a sense, when Jesus was born some two thousand years in the Middle East. That is what Christmas is all about; love taking a human body to consummate forgiveness for us, so that we can love back. (John 3:1-17)

So, how can I make this Christmas more tangibly a celebration of Jesus birth?

– This Christmas I am proposing not to just give gifts to my kids, but to forgive them when they disobey my rules, or take their punishment on their behalf, not to yell at them or ‘unload my justice’ when they act out.

– This Christmas I am proposing not to just give gifts to my wife but to forgive her when she doesn’t meet my unrealistic expectations, responds in a way I don’t like or doesn’t do things the way I want (not that it ever happens because my wife is perfect but, just for the sake of argument)

– This Christmas I am proposing not to just give gifts to strangers as a ‘good deed’ but to forgive strangers who cut me off while driving.

– This Christmas I am proposing not to just give “Merry Christmas” to people at the grocery store but to forgive those who bring 50 items to the express lane cashier or take my parking space.

– This Christmas I am proposing not to just give one-time shoeboxes to the orphans but to forgive their troubling and dangerous past and help them to have a chance to have a family.

– This Christmas I am proposing not to just give beautiful words of appreciation to the church leaders but to forgive when they don’t do things the way I think they should be done.

– This Christmas I am proposing not to just give Christmas cards to friends but to forgive their shortcomings by not making them the doormat in which I step upon to make my righteousness validated.

– This Christmas I am proposing not to just give a mouthful of my opinions to those who disagree with my beliefs but to forgive and give grace as I have been given grace.

– This Christmas I am proposing not to just give gifts to myself but to forgive my mistakes, sins and failures in the past since God already forgave me.

I may not always be able to take upon myself the due penalty of other’s mistakes as Jesus did –which is the ultimate forgiveness. Nevertheless, I wonder if just by forgiving little and big offenses, right there and then, if I may be able to show to others in a practical way, what Christmas is all about: free will to love -which we may agree, is a synonym of free will to chose to forgive. As someone said: “We are never more like God than when we forgive“. This Christmas, I wont just give, I will forgive.

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:35

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!


Upon reading and watching countless blogs, debates and testimonies, I am of the conviction that Christianity has lost effect in our society, among other reasons, due to a loss of credibility. We Christians sometimes fight so adamantly for the right to say “Merry Christmas” or display a nativity set or set up a Christmas tree in the public square or defending a specific point of view that, in the fight, we lose sight of what really matters and destroy with our actions the very message we claim to defend.

The true history of Christmas
Let’s start with being intellectually, historically and Biblically honest. Christmas –at least the way we broadly observe it today, is not Biblical. (please don’t stop reading, there is a good end to this). Yes, it is true. Christmas the way we know it is not commanded. Nowhere in the Bible are we told to celebrate Jesus’ birthday or to have a nativity set or to have a tree full of ornaments or to give gifts on December 25th. God never told us to fight for Christmas to defend and preserve the right for Christmas traditions. In fact, it is a well documented true, both Biblically and historically, that all of these activities of Christmas are based on pagan (non-Christian) traditions and predate Christianity. Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, a variety of cultures were erecting trees and giving gifts in honor of their own gods and idols. In fact, most likely Jesus wasn’t even born in December. Jesus’ birth most likely happened towards the end of September. So, just to be clear, when we fight for all of these things, we need to understand, we are not fighting God’s fight but our own. Just to make it worse, some historians argue that the Puritans and some of the first Christians in our land contended that Christians should not even be involved in these activities as it is clear that The Bible condemns and forbids idolatry and pagan-like rituals. Acknowledging these facts may be a good start to gaining credibility in presenting our case for Christ.

My reason for this season
But even if you observe some of these traditions, like I do, whether you like having a tree or a nativity set of doing Santa, please keep this in mind: while it is true that this country was founded in Judeo-Christian principles and we have the right to say “Merry CHRISTmas!”, not many people -that I know of, have come to the saving knowledge of salvation through Christ because we responded to their “Happy holidays” greeting with our very emphatic “Merry CHRISTmas!”

How many people do you know who got saved by a forced nativity set in a public square? Is it possible that, by being less dogmatic about what we want about Christmas (which we concluded is not God’s idea anyway), and more ‘respectful and cordial to their desires and objections, that we may be able to engage in a friendly conversation that potentially can lead us to share why we believe what we believe? –not about a tree but about the cross?

Is it possible that switching from ‘defending our rights for Christmas’ to ‘taking advantage of opportunities to introduce our savior”, may be more in line with what God wants from us during this and all seasons? (“…go therefore and make disciples…”)

I could very well be wrong, but I wonder, since we want so much to make Jesus happy on His Birthday, if we would do better by not fighting our fights but His, by taking every single opportunity we have to tell others -not about Christmas stuff, but about Christ –this and all seasons.

When the goal of telling the truth about Christ is clouded by our dogmatic ‘Christmas truths’, we may, just may be missing the whole point of the opportunity this season brings.


This week marks the first year anniversary of Thoughts With Accent.  As I shared  on the very first entry, it started at the suggestion of my wife to better share thoughts (with accent  🙂 ), as opposed to Notes on Facebook.

Since then, I have written about personal topics such the typical “about me“, my cologne , my travels , lost friendships, and even famous people I’ve met. Holidays, politics and some music have also been topics of discussion.

I have likewise enjoyed considering serious issues in Christian life like judgingconflict devotional life, and “coincidences” from the Bible.

 

After 1 year, 90 posts and 15,000 viewers, these were the most viewed, linked, re-tweeted and/or recommended by readers:

1st-year’s top 5 most  viewed, linked, re-tweeted and/or recommended blog entries:

5. Beaten by an Atheist; healed by a Muse”; what I have come to conclude 

4. Judging and de-friending 

3. More than just “wash each other’s feet” 

2. My name is Luis, and I am a Pharisee. I’ve been clean for 48 hrs 

1. Born Identity

 

 

Happy 4th of July!!


This year, I received one of the best Christmas gifts ever, and I’m going to tell you the story on a ‘Memento style‘:

On Christmas Eve night…

… my family and I were living the Christmas family tradition of opening the gifts before midnight (on the 24th). At some point I received a text message that enlightened the occasion with even more ‘Christmas spirit’ and ever filling joy

Earlier also on Christmas Eve…

…I had had the opportunity to share a message at the first Graystone’s Christmas Spanish service. It was just awesome. We had about 70 or 80 people in the room, Christmas/worship music and a swell great time. Most of these people had been invited and brought from a nearby neighborhood called Gwinnett Estates…

For the last 2 years…

…hundreds of people from Graystone church have been giving their time, money and resources in helping this low-income community where the predominant population is made out of Mexican-immigrants. Week in and week out, volunteers of all trades and ages come to help with a variety of activities like English classes, school tutoring & homework assistance, haircuts, clothe-drives, aerobics and sports Camp. All of these activities are done from a trailer in the neighborhood that the church acquired and now is called “The Hope Center”; it is our little “mission trip” opportunity happening every week without having to hop on an airplane.

What did the text say?

That day, a the Christmas Eve service and as a result of all the hard work of so many volunteers throughout the year, the community responded and 9 people expressed their decision for Christ!; 9 people no longer walking in darkness; 9 people no longer bound to hell; 9 people who were born from death to life and will now enjoy here on earth the life in abundance that Jesus promised and the Eternal life He paid for. 9 people whose eternal destinies changed… because of you, Graystoners!!, because of the work of God done through your hands and feet.

What an awesome Christmas gift!!