Life by Grace

JOIN ME IN MY JOURNEY PERMEATED BY THE GRACE OF GOD. "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me." I Corinthians 15:10

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Cross and Christmas

God taught me an important lesson today through teaching the 4s and 5s children's church this morning. The philosophy for our children's ministries comes from Desiring God ministries. They deliberately keep their curriculum God-centered. We had a children's ministries meeting for all those where were going to be involved in teaching in children's ministries this quarter back at the end of September. We watch a DVD from Desiring God Ministries, which I highly recommend. I also read over some supplementary material in the curriculum about keeping the teaching God-centered. But as I have been preparing lessons over the last few weeks, I have notice that I have been rushed and have not kept the lesson God-centered. I had never been in a ministry that has really grasped the incredible importance of being God-centered even down the children's lessons. My church attempts to keep their focus biblical, and I think God is doing a great work in growing us in this area. As I was thinking over my lesson today on my way home, I realized how man-centered it was. Especially with children's lesson in church, it is so easy for a teacher to just teach the facts of the story and completely missing teaching about God, even if the curriculum is focused in that direction. When I asked the kids at the end of the lesson what they learned about God, they only told me facts about the lesson and not what truth about God we learned. That was my fault. I have determined that to help keep myself in check as I teach, I need to make a deliberate effort keep the focus on what we can learn about God and not just the facts of a Bible story. I am going to have a sheet of paper to hold up to them at the beginning that tells what we are going to learn about God today. As I teach the lesson, I am going to keep coming back how we can learn from the lesson the truths about God that I held up at the beginning. Then at the end, they should have a pretty good grasp of how they know God is like the truth I held up at the beginning.

The question I would like to pose to you is how to keep Christmas cross-centered and God-centered. On the drive home tonight, I was thinking about what I just shared with you above. I was also applying that to Christmas. The things I love most about Christmas are getting together with family, the music, giving gifts, and the whole ambiance of Christmas. It is often said that the true meaning of Christmas is lost in the buying of gifts and Santa Clause. I don't have much of a problem with the Santa Clause part. But the atmosphere of Christmas is what probably distracts me most from the Cross and Christ at Christmas. I have thought of this off and on, and I want to get your input on it. What are some biblical and practical ways of keeping the cross at the center of Christmas in our thinking, practice, and life?


  • At November 28, 2006 7:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great Blog!
    I wish all the teachers were getting it as clearly as you do!
    First, Are we spirtually sensitive enough to see that the "good stuff" even the things that are not directly related to the gospel are gifts from God? Like: the family stuff, the time with friends, He alone is the One that gives us all good things to enjoy. Everythign comes from Him and is for Him and so that the glory goes back to Him.

    Second: Christmas is meaningless without the Cross. Keep stating that truth and it will finally click with even kids. But, you have to be overwhelmed by that thougth first. Remember, teaching comes out of overflow in your walk and relationship with God. The Holy Spirit is a greater teacher than I to impress upon you how to relate that to Lana and Erica and the others. I will be praying for you as you prepare for even this week.

    Ken Huff

  • At November 28, 2006 11:04 PM, Anonymous ricky said…

    Hey Noon,

    you posed a great question about the cross and Christmas. i have been thinking about it, and i have a feeling that some sort of response will end up as a post on my blog. ;)

    i think what Ken said is absolutely right. Christmas is nothing withou the cross. the thought that has been coming back to my mind as i have been thinking abou this is "what made Christ's coming so special then?"

    i think that the relationship between the cross and Christmas is a lot closer than we realize. think about this: what were the Old Testament saints putting their faith in for salvation? the coming of the Messiah. Ultimately, they were trusting in the promises of Yahweh for a coming Savior. they had very little, if any knowledge of a cross. the disciples rejected Christ predictions of his death, so they obviously didn't know. the gospel to the OT saint was the promised Savior had come.

    On the other hand, the NT saint looks back to the cross for forgiveness, and he looks forward to the return of King Jesus. the gospel for the NT saint is the cross. since we have more information and revelation of God's plan, we know more specifically what to trust in - the atoning work of the sacrifice of the perfect Lamb of God.

    these are my thoughts. i am sure that there will be more. sorry to take so much space :)

    love ya noon

  • At December 01, 2006 11:30 PM, Blogger Nicole said…

    Hello. I don’t know if you remember me or my husband (Nathan Pitchford) from NBBC. But anyways, I am thrilled to see your desire to keep things God-centered and Christ/cross-centered. I’ve noticed that it is especially hard for people to teach Christ from the Old Testament, even though everything in the Old Testament points to Christ.

    As far as keeping Christmas cross-centered, Noel Piper has an excellent book called “Treasuring God in Our Traditions” that has many examples and tips on how to treasure God through the holidays and special events in our lives.

  • At December 04, 2006 4:32 PM, Anonymous Ruth Blair said…

    I wanted to leave something deeply profound but found myself agreeing with Ken and Ricky. The best thing I can think of is simply that it will be an outflowing of a God-centered life every day. God will give you what He wants. Enjoy the gifts of the traditions and fun things with thanksgiving and just be available to Him to touch you with His thoughts and desired actions from you regarding Christmas and the Cross.

    Love you, Aunt Ruth

  • At December 06, 2006 4:28 PM, Anonymous Josh Blaha said…

    In response to my sister’s post about the Cross and Christmas, I think it is essential for us to live a daily life with a mind set on the cross. The cross is the very essence of the life of a believer. So many people do NOT do this to their loss and shame. However, as believers, I think it is good to preach the cross to everyone whether suspected believer, affirmed believer, or complete pagan. We all need it. Jesus Christ’s death is the blood by which our lives exist. So, if it is a Sunday School class full of defiant 4’s and 5’s or just someone on the street, first make sure that you are constantly rejoicing in the cross as well as living by the cross and thereby speak the cross. You can always find a way.

    Josh Blaha


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