On Fire for All Things Christ

Archive for December, 2011

Celebration Christmas Experience

I have one word – amazed! This was my first year to attend the Celebration Christmas production at Houston’s First Baptist Church and I must say I was amazed! I was like a little kid at the edge of my seat, wide-eyed, taking in every detail. Now this may seem like a short-handed complement since I’ve only seen two church Christmas productions (both of them this year), but in all honesty my review is well intended. Celebration was the best Christmas production I have ever seen.

The first hour of the production was light-hearted and filled with things such as people dancing in penguin costumes and the children’s choir singing as they watched Santa come to town, (or more like descend on his sleigh from the rafters above the audience to center stage). Then, after a five-minute greet and stretch session divides the show, the lights dim and the production gets serious. From the center of the sanctuary, a spotlight shines on Isaiah as he speaks in Hebrew and prophesies about the messiah to come. His voice radiates in song and I feel the God-bumps on my arms. After Isaiah come other prophets, and then, the silence of God for 400 years as the Jews settle in Israel. Live animals and extravagant stage sets illustrate the time. Mary comes in riding on a donkey as she enters Bethlehem and gives birth to the Son of God, Jesus. Angels on wires and carts all through the sanctuary give praise. Elephants and elaborate costumes depict the arrivals of the wise men and so on… I don’t want to give everything away!

A few days later in Singer’s practice a few of us shared our thoughts on the show. I was excited to share my experience and even more excited to hear what others had to say of the show and its message. What testimonies! Glory to God!!

So, all this to say, I’m inviting my whole family next year and I pray that all who have attended and will attend in the future are touched by Jesus’ story and Celebration!

Below are a few photos from the 2010 Celebration:

Santa’s sleigh (© All rights reserved by Houston’s First)

Isaiah (© All rights reserved by Houston’s First)

Angels (© All rights reserved by Houston’s First)

They All On Me

Cutthroat street poster

I have written a post addressing Cutthroat street posters before, but this time, I want to address this one particular poster that after six months, still remains posted up on an electric box on the corner of Fannin and Wentworth in Houston. I pass by this poster on my way to work everyday, but as I looked at the familiar image again today, a new message came to my mind when I read:

“They all on me”

I stared at the downcast face of the Christ wearing the crown of thorns as I thought about the meaning of those words. Sin, that is what’s “all on [Him].” My past sin, my present sin, my future sin, your past sin, your present sin, your future sin – they were all on Him. He bore all sin as He hung, suffered and bled on the cross. He became sin, satisfying its penalty so that we could become the righteousness of God through Christ.

1 Peter 2:24
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

2 Corinthians 5:21
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Isaiah 53:5
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Hebrews 10:10
And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Ace of Grace

Grace is defined as God’s unmerited favor.
That is, grace is God doing good for us that we do not deserve.

It’s been a rough few days here at the office. I had unintentionally let some things slide through the cracks in some of my projects and now my mistakes are all being discovered all at one time. Yikes! Not good. With all these mishaps, I am feeling very much on edge thinking that I may get fired any day now. How could I let so much go wrong in such short amount of time? And in the midst of the tension, my email has been surprisingly silent. I thought surely I better start packing up my things and updating my resume.

Then yesterday after lunch, my boss came to my desk. He leans over my partition wall, hands me a napkin and says, “Here’s half a cookie. I cut it in half so that it makes a smile for you.” How sweet (pun intended). He knew how I was feeling and wanted me to feel better.

Shortly after I got the cookie, I heard a silent voice from the Lord say to me, “you are given grace.” Almost immediately, tears filled my eyes as I stared into the air. The Lord was telling me that I was being extended grace and that things were going be okay. This whole week I had been thinking about what the punishment and consequence were going to be for my bombing mistakes, but instead I was given grace. Wow, such a God-like gesture. He’s giving me grace and mercy. Aside from the Cross, I think this is the biggest act of grace I can remember. Then, to reinforce His message, the Lord confirmed “grace” to me when the Holy Spirit prompted me with the song “Only Grace” by Matthew West.

Praise to You, Jesus. For You have used this to bring glory to Your Name. Let me always remember Your act of grace and the acts of grace from others. This conforms us to Your image. And may I also extravagantly extend grace to others. Thank You for Your peace despite the difficult situation. Glory be to Your great name.

So ultimately, my circumstance may not be monumental in the long-term, but the lesson surely is. God extends His grace to us in so many ways. And in this lesson, I also discovered that the very last verse in the Bible in the very last book references His grace, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.” (Rev. 22:21)

Hebrews 12: 14-15
Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness — without it no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many.

2 Peter 3:18
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

1 Peter 1:2
May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

Chopped Redemption

After a tough, long day at work, I came home, served myself a bowl of cereal for dinner and switched on the TV for a bit. Yes! It was Tuesday night and the Chopped evening marathon was on. Nearing 10pm, a preview came up to announce the coming episode. Wouldn’t you believe I was so excited when they announced a second chance episode and my favorite Chef from the Summer, Chef Lance, was back.

I remember the first time Chef Lance was on Chopped. He and another competitor (Chef Madison) were head-to-head in each round cooking amazing, creative cuisines with hardly no mistakes. I think it was the closest battle on Chopped I had ever seen. Both competitors had great attitudes and talents. It was hard to see either one of them lose.

This second chance episode called “Chopped Redemption,” (originally aired on July 26, then again on Dec. 6 & 20) was perfect for Chef Lance and I’ll explain why as you read along.

At the beginning of each show they introduce the chefs where each one is interviewed to give their inspiration to cook and reason for being on Chopped. As I watched this “Chopped Redemption” with anticipation through each course, I just knew Chef Lance was going to win, and I had a gut feeling that he was somehow going to give part of his winnings to his final competitor. And wouldn’t you believe that at the end of the show, that’s exactly what happened.

I share this with you because I love the story behind this episode and Chef Lance. Chef Lance is a Christian and an executive chef at Camp of the Woods Resort in New York. In his interview on the show, he spoke about the mean and inconsiderate person he used to be, but now, he has changed his attitude on life and others. I think most of us that have crossed from death to life can relate to this. Most of the competitors on the show come to prove themselves as good chefs to family and friends, for validation and credit, or simply just to win and get the prize money. Chef Lance’s competitor, Chef Yoanne, was there to win the money to pay for her future visit to France and see her dying grandmother – her inspiration. Chef Lance was so touched by Yoanne’s motivation, that in the end, he gave his competitor, Yoanne, part of his winnings so she could visit her grandmother.

I loved Chef Lance’s passion to cook, his mission to serve people through the food he prepares, his grace, and his heart to help others, as he did for Chef Yoanne. Chopped Redemption was the perfect title for this episode because it showed Chef Lance’s redemption as a chef and his redeeming character as a believer in Christ. Praise be to God! Congratulations on the win-win for Chef Lance!

Arguing the Ascension of Christ

I saw this write up: Ascension Day and Astronaut Jesus on another blog and was infuriated enough to write a response, (written below). I almost felt that the author’s original post was written as a joke, but in any case, a response was needed for those who are truly seeking truth on the subject on whether or not God’s ascension to Heaven can be taken literal. My response argues against the claims that Jesus’ ascension to Heaven cannot be taken literal.

Argument #1
Jesus “flew” up to Heaven? Is that what the scripture (Acts 1:9) says? No, the scripture says Jesus was lifted up/taken up. The Greek word there for “taken up” is “epairō.” It is important to note the details in the text and observe that Jesus did not “fly” or propel Himself up, but He was lifted/taken up by another source.

When we/the church are “caught up”(1 Thess. 4:17), that doesn’t mean that we will “fly,” it means we will be seized/snatched/carried off by force.

Hence, Jesus being “lifted,” or the saints being “caught up” is by a force outside ourselves.

Argument #2:
I’m not sure we all understand what the blog meant when he wrote “as we all now know, heaven is not ‘up’.” The topic under discussion itself is called “Ascension Day.” Does the word ascension not imply an upward direction? Scripture clearly states that the Heavens are above the Earth (Isaiah 55:9, Psalm 103:11). And, just so we’re clear, NOT EVERYONE will be raptured up unfortunately. And again, WE WILL NOT FLY UP, but we will be “caught up”/seized.

Argument #3:
Who is to say that our glorified bodies will need oxygen? God is the one who breaths life into us. (Genesis 2:7)

Argument #4
God created everything in 6 days (Genesis 2:2)!!! That included the Earth, the things under it, and the things above it (heavens). Therefore, ascension to the sky/Heaven by God’s power is not based on the laws of gravity and “light years of travel” through space. God Himself created gravity and all the things that govern creation, but He is not ruled or subject to these laws. He is sovereign OVER them.

Also, the apostle Paul in 2 Cor.12:2 says that he was “caught up” to the third heavens. Does that mean it took him light years to get there? Obviously not since he speaks of that being 14 years earlier.

So, yes, ascension did happen and it happened LITERALLY as the Word describes. However, it did not happen based of the defining laws that govern creation (such as gravity, space and time), but by God who created all and is above all things, including the the laws that govern creation.

So, that is how I make my argument against those who do not beleive that Jesus’ ascension can be taken litterally.

I would also like to make a note that in general, when making claims on Biblical text, one must consider the context (setting, atmosphere, audience, etc) of the scripture passage. If surrounding verses are literal, then most likely, so are the verses in question. One wouldn’t read Chronicles and think it is poetic literature, just as one wouldn’t read Song of Songs and consider it to be historical. That would be silly. So again, always consider the context and that will help give insight in how the text should be interpreted.

Praise and glory be to our Father in Heaven who has blessed us with wisdom, knowledge and faith to believe.

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