Friday, December 12, 2008

MERRY CHRISTMAS

I thought I would write a Christmas greeting and some thoughts for the season. Then I read what my friend, Rick Anthony, pastor of Grace Fellowship Church in Norman Oklahoma had written to his fellowship and decided it needed to be heard by anyone passing by my blog. Great thoughts Rick...thanks.


OUTSIDE THE BOX

After the most recent election I made the personal commitment to pray for our new president. I committed to pray for this man even if I find myself in disagreement with his decisions or direction. I also have committed to pray for those who serve as leaders with him. This has really created an interesting challenge as he has begun announcing his choices for his cabinet. There are some chosen by him that I didn’t expect and some that I feel are wrong for the job. There are some that I think are perfectly suited while others have been chosen who were not even in my top twenty-five. Basically, I am finding that it is somewhat tougher to pray for something or someone when it not my choice or the decision that I would make. It is tough to maintain my prayer support when I am having to pray outside of my box, my box that defines how I have decided this should happen.

The people in Isaiah’s day had this same problem thinking outside of the box. Read Isaiah 9:6-7. Who is the ultimate person this passage is talking about?

It is ultimately speaking of Christ and it clearly explains that He will be coming as a child, yet when that happened almost no one expected that the Savior was a little baby. The result of this inability to think outside the box resulted in most of the people missing the opportunity to sit at the feet of Christ.

What areas of life do you miss out on due to the fact that you have allowed yourself to be boxed in?

Pastor Rick Anthony


From the Burlesons to all of you....
Merry Christmas--2008


Paul B.

16 comments:

Bob Cleveland said...

Good thoughts, Paul. Thanks for the post.

That whole thing about the election ... the political kind .. :) ... makes me thankful for the 11 or 12 years I was a Presbyterian. I never did have any trouble understanding that Sen. Obama was the man God wanted in office; the command to pray for and support and obey our leadership was thereby a lot easier to assimilate.

Paul Burleson said...

Bob,

Thanks for stopping by. Keep us informed as to the shape your earthen vessel's in.

Kate Johnson said...

A Pastor friend started 70 days of prayer for the President elect after the election and he emails a devotional/prayer each day. It has helped tremendously in how to pray. Mostly it is that he (Mr. Obama)and his cabinet (which the pastor names as they are picked) look to God for guidance and direction and to follow His will. And then he adds for each position something for that position (I.e. for health for the nation and its leaders and people when it is the DHHS appointee.) It really has not been difficult, (and I am not doing his prayers or their honest sincerety justice). Anyway, my 2 sense... uurrr... cents...

Paul Burleson said...

Kate,

The first "sense" more adequately describes your comment. Thank you for it.

debbiekaufman said...

I'm looking forward to the results of more thinking in this direction. If we pray for our leaders, no matter who they are, the results could be tremendous. I am glad you posted this.

Paul Burleson said...

Thanks Debbie. This young pastor has his head and heart in the right position. He's a great friend.

traveller said...

While I concur with this post from the point of praying for President-elect Obama and his cabinet/advisers, may I focus on the last point/question?

As I grow older one of the things I see is that people in my age range 50+ tend to both intentionally and unintentionally box themselves into certain ways of thinking and doing. Both chaos and a fixation with no change are sure recipes for "death". It is at the interface of these two that learning and growth occurs. This is true intellectually and spiritually. Most people my age have no real interest in change. I believe this is one reason we see limited spiritual maturity.

May I take the opportunity of wishing you and your family a most wonderful Christmas together and a New Year with many opportunities where chaos and the resistance to change bump against one another.

Paul Burleson said...

Traveller,

Some additional good thoughts as usual. I have to admit in my age group it appears to me that often the chaos scares and the box is comfortable and comfort wins out most of the time. Unfortunate because, as someone said, the most secure PRISON is the one we construct for ourselves and comfort CAN be a prison.

traveller said...

Yes, agreed, I think chaos, or even change, is quite frightening to many people. I think this is one reason that this is a successful tactic in politics.

Not only is comfort a prison, it almost assures that we will not be the humans God created us to be because God is in the business of transforming us, which by definition involves change and sometimes chaos in our lives.

This, to me, is a classic case of misunderstanding risk. People believe that change in their life is high risk and that keeping things the same is low, or no, risk. The reality for those who follow Jesus is that change (transformation) is the no risk option.

By this I do not mean there are no negative consequences in this unredeemed world for following Jesus, only that when in his arms of grace, mercy and love, we do not need to worry about a life lived in his transforming embrace.

Paul Burleson said...

Traveller,

EXCELLENT point....I totally agree....wish I'd said it. :) [But glad you did.]

Bobby Brown said...

It might ease your minds about Obama a little if you consider the state of our economy and our damaged reputation in the world come at the end of 8 years when the Republicans (which I am mostly one) had control of the White House all 8 years and the House and Senate 6 of the 8 years! I promise you the Democrats love this country as much as the Republicans and would not knowingly do things that are damaging to it. It is just that their opinions may differ from some of ours and if those opinions are not definitely against Scripture then they may be correct. If it were not for radically liberal views at the time women would not be able to vote, and blacks would not be able to eat in our restaurants. I recall when Martin Luther King was marching the streets in Selma, Alabama and they were chasing him with dogs and fire hoses we considered him so far left he was a Communist being investigated by the FBI. The now evident truth is that the further right we were from what he was trying to do at the time the further wrong we were.
I believe that for America to elect a bi-racial person with a Muslim name is a tremendous step in the right direction and if he had been a conservative Republican I would have definitely voted for him. He had no choice about his color or name.

Paul Burleson said...

Bobby,

Thanks for your comment.

I DO think there is enough responsibility to go around for the economic mess we're in that no single person OR party is to blame.

We could track responsibility as far back as the establishment of fannie and freddie and the willingness to get money in the hands of people unable from the gitgo to pay it back. Then there are the banks that put together packages that were full of sub-prime mortgages and were making fortunes through a less than honest bottomline for those institutions.

Add to that an unwillingness to correct that mess with regulation by a less than intellegent government and more ineptness is seen.

Shoot...we COULD go all the way back to fallen human nature that loves and serves money as god...remember the absolute quietness of a sacred bank lobby...to get full responsibility. [That's why I love to turn my voice up a notch or two when I go into a bank. You should see the looks I get for being disrespecful. :)]

Anyway. You can see I've got a button that can be pushed when responsibility is being assigned.

Bobby Brown said...

I agree I just wanted to make the point that why are we so worried about Obama and the Dems when we are now where we are and the Rep have been in power for 8 years. Maybe we should watch a little more CNN and MSNBC as well as FOX?

Paul Burleson said...

I think EVERYBODY ought to watch the lightweight channel along with the heavyweight. [Which is which in my belief I'll leave unstated. GRIN ]

Cheryl Schatz said...

Pastor Paul,

I wish you and your family a very blessed Christmas season. Keep up the good work!

Paul Burleson said...

Cheryl,
Merry Christmas to you and may the new year find you as effective as the old one did in defending the Faith.