THE EVERYDAY DEEDS (BLOGMAS DAY ELEVEN)

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

Christmas has the power to change people, don’t you think?

Over the years, we have all seen the change that takes place in people around this holiday season, and I think that there can be power in that change. People begin to talk to one another as they do their last-minute Christmas shopping. We all sing the songs that have become so familiar. We all tend to greet one another with a joy-filled, “Merry Christmas.”

I especially remember these small changes in people from when I was a child, looking at Christmas as this crazy time when suddenly, all our differences and disputes were put aside. It was something that I always loved experiencing and seeing, and something that now, I miss very sorely.

You see that small window of time, that month and a half leading up to Christmas, was something that has impacted me in such a powerful way, and I wish I saw that more now. I think that now, in 2021, we have become so self-obsessed, and so consumed with what we want and need, that no one even thinks about the power they could have, just by telling a little girl “Merry Christmas”.

Once again, I believe that J. R. R. Tolkien sums up the power of these little things in this perfect quote by Gandalf, when talking about why he chose Bilbo Baggins to accompany himself and thirteen dwarves on a perilous quest.

He says, “Some believe that it is only great power that can hold Evil in check. But that is not what I have found. It is rather the small, everyday deeds of ordinary folks that keeps the Darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps it is because I am afraid; and he gives me courage.”

Now, I believe we can all agree that the darkness in this world is barely, at best, being kept at bay. Yet we are all at a loss as to how that has happened so rapidly. If what Gandalf has said is true, which I believe it is entirely, the answer is staring us straight in the face.

It is the small, everyday deeds of ordinary folks. Something which we have not taken as seriously as we ought.

You see, the reason I always felt so much happier and more content around Christmas time, is because of the small things, that kept the darkness at bay for the month of December. The small things that changed a little girl’s view of the world, even for a short time.

I want to encourage you today, it is the small things you do, the smile you freely give to a stranger, the holiday greeting you utter, that keep the darkness at bay.

Why do I enjoy the changed mood, the songs we all sing, and the spirit of Christmas that changes people?

Perhaps it is because I am afraid; and they give me courage.

HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Let your heart be light

From now on, our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Make the Yuletide gay

From now on, our troubles will be miles away

Here we are as in olden days

Happy golden days of yore

Faithful friends who are dear to us

Gather near to us once more

Through the years we all will be together

If the fates allow

So hang a shining star upon the highest bough

And have yourself a merry little Christmas now

FROM CHILDISH TO CHILDLIKE (BLOGMAS DAY THREE)

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

This summer, I took a class that went behind and beyond The Lord of the Rings, and we discussed some of the very real spiritual values that Tolkien presents through his imaginary stories, and how they apply to our everyday lives.

One of the things we talked about was how each Hobbit involved in the stories took a personal journey from their childish ways and went on this quest to become childlike.

Now, I know some of you may not see a difference between the two, I mean, kids are kids, right? But there is actually a big difference between being childish and childlike, and it is deeply intertwined with our relationship with Jesus.

You see, being childish means that you are petty, concerned with small things, unable to grasp the big picture when it comes to life, and you literally act like a child.

Being childlike, however, means that you think like a child. You see endless possibilities and worlds and beings, and you believe that everything is achievable, and that’s just the way life is. Now, I’m sure you have heard of the term “child-like faith” thrown around in church, and kind of referred to as this belief that we all want to have, but soon grow out of as we mature in life and see things in a more realistic sense.

Before I took that class, and heard this topic being discussed, a “child-like faith” didn’t mean much to me. It was just the term we used in the church that referred to a child’s inexperience, and lack of realistic knowledge, and we then accredited that as the reason children can believe in the Lord so easily.

But today, I want you to see the power in becoming childlike. I believe that a childlike faith actually consists of this thought that we are merely a small part in the big scheme of life, but we take pride in Jesus wanting to use us. We still see those endless possibilities, but they are now cultivated by God, and used to help us step off the shore and dive into an ocean of incredibility.

“And He said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become child-like, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.”” (Matthew 18:3)

During Christmas time, I think we can all agree that there is this feeling that fills the air, and makes us excited and giddy, like we physically cannot wait for Christmas day. However, I think this is a good example of what it means to go from childish to childlike. When we are childish, we get excited about the snow, or sitting on Santa’s lap, or the presents under the Christmas tree.

But if we have made that transition to a childlike attitude, we are filled with joy, not just excitement, and while we may still anticipate those things I just listed, we know that the actual reason for Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birth, and we use that time to remember everything he has done for us, and ultimately prepare ourselves for his second coming.

You see, we all must walk on the road of childishness, where we are selfish and simple, and travel to the glorious destination of being childlike, where we are transformed into a creature who sees possibility and does not doubt the supernatural power and goodness of God.

Only then, can we enter the kingdom of Heaven. Only then, can we look at our Lord through a childlike wonder and awe, that is profoundly connected to our salvation.

WHAT CHILD IS THIS?

Why lies he in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding
The end of fear for all who hear
The silent Word is speaking
This, this is Christ the king
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing
Haste, haste to bring him laud
The babe, the son of Mary

So bring him incense, gold and myrrh
Come peasant king to love him;
The king of kings salvation brings
Let loving hearts enthrone him
This, this is Christ the king
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing
Haste, haste to bring him praise
The babe, the son of Mary

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SITTING QUIETLY

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

For my birthday this past week (since I was not going to cave in and wear a mask in order to do anything in public), I decided that I would stay at home and watch all of ‘The Hobbit’ and all of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ movies. As usual, I have found some very good blog post material.  

While watching the first of ‘The Hobbit’ movies, ‘An Unexpected Journey’, I noticed a line that had not previously held much meaning for me personally, but is extremely relevant in this time of uncertainty. At the beginning of the movie, Gandalf (a wizard) comes to the door of a very respectable Hobbit, called Bilbo Baggins. Gandalf asks Bilbo if he would like to partake in an adventure. Bilbo responds with an extremely adamant “no” and tells him that adventures are “nasty, disturbing, uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!”

But you cannot very easily give Gandalf a “no” for an answer, so he shows up that night with thirteen dwarves whose home has been taken from them by the dragon, Smaug, and who are now hoping to reclaim it. However, they need a burglar. We find out, Gandalf has nominated Bilbo for this position, and has the contract all written up and everything! Bilbo becomes so worked up about the adventure, and the dragon, and even just the dwarves, that he literally passes out!

In the next scene, he comes to and is sitting in his armchair with a cup of tea while he and Gandalf have an exchange that I believe is very important. Listen closely to what is said. “I’ll be fine, just let me sit quietly for a moment,” said Bilbo. “You’ve been sitting quietly for far too long!” Was the response Gandalf gave.  

I had never noticed this line with much significance, as I said before, but this time it really popped out to me. I think now more than ever this quote is so relevant to the Church. With all the things that have been going on in our world recently like the illegitimate presidency and the virus that is supposedly the leading cause of death now, it has become very much apparent to me how weak and quiet the Church has become. I mean seriously, we are failing at our job. Jesus intended the Church to be the force that would speak out against evil, defend the defenseless, be influential in our communities, but no. We have decided that it is far, far easier to sit quietly in our churches, and do nothing.  

“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.”  (2 Corinthians 11:13-15) 

Did you know that it has been an entire year since the first case of the China virus hit the United States, and we have lots of actual evidence that masks are completely, and utterly useless? Yet churches and businesses around the country are still demanding that you wear them if you want to come into their building. Did you know that political corruption has been taking place since, at least, the time Franklin D. Roosevelt was in office and the Church has ignored the evidence that has been given about this?

Did you also know that the church has done absolutely nothing to speak up for the rights we have as American citizens, and as Christians, to end this corruption? Honestly, what has the church done during this time other than comply to what the government has told us, without them giving us any factual evidence as to why we should obey EVERYTHING they say without pause?  I know that many people are saying, “We can win the next election.” “Just focus on being an influence in your community and your schools.”

But if we are being completely honest with ourselves, there is never going to be another fair election, if the current corruption is not dealt with. It will not matter who is on your school boards because we will be completely controlled by the government. You will not get to worship freely anymore. You will not get to own guns anymore. Some of these things are happening right now.

This whole entire thing with the virus has merely been a test to see who will comply with whatever our leaders say no matter how ridiculous, no matter how false, no matter how senseless. And they have succeeded in this goal, because hardly anyone has offered up any opposition whatsoever; especially not the Church.  

We have been sitting quietly for far too long, and while we have been silent, darkness and evil have over-run our world. My fear is that some of us still do not grasp this truth. We continue to be blind and ignorant of these things. We think that if we ignore it long enough it will just magically disappear, or if we ignore it, it will never affect our personal lives. This is no longer the case.

It used to be that we could ignore the issues in our world to an extent. It used to be that we could leave it to the politicians and scientists, but we no longer have that option. Our world has become so corrupt that it seems like no one can trust anyone else.

The Church should be the place where people can go to be educated about some of the things that are happening, but all they are getting from us is the fluff about how “it doesn’t matter who is in the White House because the same God is on the throne.” That is simply not the entire truth of the matter! Yes, God is still on the throne, but it still matters who is in the White House. It matters because, I believe that God has given the United States of America an opportunity to be “The Last Best Hope” in the world.

If we allow evil to take over our country, the world will be lost. Have no doubt. 

Church, we must stand up! We must stop sitting quietly because we have been doing so for far too long! Some say it is too late, and it may be. But we must try nonetheless! This evil MUST be defeated.  

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.”  (Romans 8:6-7) 

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Have you been sitting quietly?

= What’s one way you can help defeat corruption?

= What are you going to do differently?