Tag Archive | A Charlie Brown Christmas

The Path of The Polar Express

I love Christmastime! There is so much to enjoy — time with family and friends, the music of the season, the decorations and lights, wonderful food, nice presents, and…

Christmas movies.

KS12503From wonderful, timeless classics like A Christmas Carol (Alastair Sim), White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, and It’s A Wonderful Life, to animated favorites like Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and A Charlie Brown Christmas, these Christmas movies bring back memories of long-ago, transporting us to other places and innocent times. Add to these more recent films such as The Santa Clause series, A Christmas Story, and Elf, and you’ll either be crying tears of nostalgia or laughing tears of joy.

One such movie that came out in 2004 was The Polar Express, based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg. It is the story of a boy who, on the verge of not believing in Santa Claus anymore, takes a ride on the magical Polar Express, and visits the North Pole one Christmas Eve. What starts out with a boy who no longer believes — and actually hesitates to even get on the train in the first place — ends with a fantastical trip to Santa’s workshop, and the great Christmas Eve sendoff, where he is personally given a gift by Santa. No longer in doubt, the boy becomes a “true believer” in Santa.

As the train returns him to his home, and he says goodbye to his new friends, the Conductor turns and says these words to the young boy:

One thing about trains… It doesn’t matter where they’re going.
What matters is deciding to get on.

Holly and snowAs I have often alluded to in my blog, truth comes from odd sources with unlikely messengers. This time of year, that very truth is more obvious than ever, starting over 2,000 years ago with a group of shepherds as the unlikeliest of messengers — sharing the news that the angels proclaimed, and the witness of what they had seen with their own eyes.

Making the decision to relinquish the “engine” of your life to Jesus is full of uncertainty. Just because we are Christians doesn’t mean we are immune to the bad stuff that life throws at us. I have presided over more funerals than I can count — people who have been the victims of, not just old age, but cancer, heart attacks, car accidents, bullet wounds, and drug overdoses. When we sign up for the Spirit-led life, we would do well to remember the words of Jesus…

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” ~ John 3:8

The Spirit-led life is full of uncertainty. There is no guarantee of good health, unshakable happiness, financial prosperity, or immunity from any other disaster.

That is, unless you are looking “beyond the veil”… beyond the borders of our finite minds and the constraints of time itself.

Here is what surrendering to the will of Jesus, and living a life controlled by His Spirit does guarantee, however…

Eternal life. Surrendering to Jesus, and accepting His finished work on the cross (salvation) guarantees your place in Heaven. (John 3:16)

Peace. Relying on Him as your sufficiency and source is the gateway of the path to peace. Peace with God means that, regardless of what shaky ground we are standing on in this world, our position with Him is never in doubt.

Hope. We hear a lot about hope, but all this world can offer (at best) is a cheap imitation. REAL hope begins and ends with a right relationship with God, and has eternal ramifications… beyond world peace, job security, climate change, and health and wellness. (Hebrews 6:19)

Joy. Not the same thing as happiness, real joy comes from knowing Christ. The very thought of His abiding presence, and the hope that He gives us invokes a joy that the world has no influence or control over. Joy in spite of circumstances. Joy in spite of pain. Joy in spite of sorrow.

These things await the life that is surrendered to Christ.

Can I explain it all to you? No.

That is what living the life of faith is about. After all, if I, or anyone else, could explain it, where would faith come into the equation? One thing I can guarantee you, however, is that there is no peace, no hope, and no joy that can compare to the love and life that Jesus offers.

So this Christmas, if you would like to surrender your life to Christ for the first time, I invite you to pray this prayer…

Dear Lord Jesus,

Please come into my heart, forgive me of my sin, and save me.

Wash me and cleanse me. Set me free. Jesus, thank You that You died for me. I believe that You are risen from the dead and that You’re coming back again for me. Fill me with the Holy Spirit. Give me a passion for the lost, a hunger for the things of God and a holy boldness to share Your love with others.

I’m saved, I’m born again, I’m forgiven and I’m on my way to Heaven because I have Jesus in my heart.

If you prayed that prayer, leave me a note below, and share your decision with me so that I can rejoice with you.

If you wanted to pray that prayer, but still have questions, or if you are already a Christian and need to walk deeper with God, just remember: It doesn’t matter where you think the journey will take you… only God knows the answer to that.

What matters is taking the first step of faith, “getting on the train”, and deciding to start the journey with Him.

Merry Christmas,
Pastor Ron

Peanuts, Paranoia, and Conquering Your Fear

In the 1965 Charles Schultz classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas, there is a very famous exchange between Charlie Brown and his street-corner counselor, Lucy Van Pelt…

Lucy: Are you afraid of responsibility? If you are, then you have hypengyophobia.

Charlie Brown: I don’t think that’s quite it.

Lucy: How about cats? If you’re afraid of cats, you have ailurophasia.

Charlie Brown: Well, sort of, but I’m not sure…

Lucy: Are you afraid of staircases? If you are, then you have climacaphobia. Maybe you have thalassophobia. This is fear of the ocean, or gephyrobia, which is the fear of crossing bridges. Or maybe you have pantophobia. Do you think you have pantophobia?

Charlie Brown: What’s pantophobia?

Lucy: The fear of everything.

Charlie Brown: THAT’S IT!!!!!

Fear is a magnet to demons. Fear will draw in the enemy, and will bring to pass the thing you have spoken out of your mouth. You need to understand that fear is not only an emotion, it is a spirit. In 2 Timothy 1:7 we read, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and a sound mind.”

Friend, it’s time to recognize your fears.

What fears flood and bring failure to your life?  It is time to take a close look at your mind and see what fears may exist there.

Fearing Life

Every day I meet people who are afraid to live life to its fullest. This fear is one of the first to ever show its face in this world. Right after Adam and Eve fell into sin, God showed up to speak to them.  In Genesis 3:10 Adam admitted to God, “I heard Your voice in the garden, but I was afraid because I was naked and I hid myself.” He couldn’t even go through his normal routines there in the garden!

Perhaps you’re afraid that people will find out who you really are and then shun you.  You are afraid that some of the things that you’ve done that are between you and God may come out. You live in fear of the truth. However, if there is any place in the world that you ought to be able to live a transparent life, it ought to be in the church. You ought to be able to surface your difficulties and your failures and have them dealt with in safety there.

The impact of fear reaches beyond spiritual issues; it can also affect your job. Perhaps you are afraid to take the next step for advancement. Maybe you fear going into management because you’re afraid the responsibility will be bigger than anything you’ve ever known. The comfort zone is preferred over progress. Someone reading here may have birthed a wonderful idea but you won’t take a risk because you so deeply fear failure.

History tells us that Abraham Lincoln lost every election he ran in except for when he ran for president. What if he had quit? We would not have had one of our greatest presidents. There are those who are paralyzed by the fear of getting up in the morning and just going about the chores of life. I want to challenge you to break this spirit and believe that you can be everything God has created you to be and more.

Fearing Death

Hebrews 2:14-15 says that “Jesus was manifested that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject unto bondage.” Many people sustain a powerful fear of dying. I believe that’s why about 65% of our hospital dollars are going to give people tests for diseases they don’t have. Many people wake up nightly short of breath, and they actually are suffering from night terrors, a demonic attack on basic health.

If you are saved, why should you be afraid of dying? Philippians 1:21 should be the Christian’s boast, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Heaven is not a thing to be feared. I’ve heard people say, “You know, I want to go to heaven, but I’m not ready if there is a trip going out tonight.”  Well, I’m ready to go today. I would miss my family, and they would miss me terribly. But after Jesus died on the cross and then arose from the tomb, He lit up the corridors of death forever. I don’t have to be afraid. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me,” said David in Psalm 23. Even in death, we are not alone.

Fearing the Enemy

Psalm 31:13-15 should be the proper response when you are facing the enemy, “I hear the slander of many. Fear is on every side, while they take counsel together against me and scheme to take away my life, but as for me, I trust in you, O Lord. I say you are my God. My times are in your hand. Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me.”

I don’t have to be afraid of the devil or his emissaries that wear skin here on the earth. Jesus spoiled principalities and powers.  He ripped the astro-deities from their thrones and exposed the enemy. I don’t have to be afraid of a tarot card, or a horoscope. I don’t need to call a psychic to find out what is going to happen tomorrow. I boast with the psalmist David in Psalm 31, “My times are in His hands.”

Fearing Man

This fear is a powerful one for many. Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.”  Is there somebody in your life that when you see them fear rises up in your spirit? Is there something in you that has you agreeing with people when you know they are wrong, simply because you are afraid of what they will think of you? Have you ever gone along with people and done things you know you shouldn’t do just because of fear that they might think badly of you?

This fear of man is something that really grips our young people today. Peer pressure, a fear of what friends think, can take over their lives. The fear of being different, the fear of what other people think—these can be so strong.  I’m not telling you that you ought to be obnoxious, but the honest truth is that it doesn’t matter what anybody thinks but God. Young people and adults alike need to quit allowing the fear of man to hinder what God wants to do in their lives.

Fearing Insignificance

People are afraid that their lives won’t count for anything. I think of Genesis 15 and the story of Abraham. Here’s old Abram, he has left fame and fortune in Ur of the Chaldees, left his beautiful home and is living in a tent. Out here, nobody knows who he is. In Genesis 15:1 it says, “After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision saying, ‘Do not be afraid.  I am your shield and your exceedingly great reward.’”

You said, “Well, I didn’t win ‘Employee of the Month’ even though I deserved it.” But God saw it, and He took account of your stewardship. You say, “Nobody has ever given me a plaque. Nobody appreciates what I do.”  I want to tell you, your great reward is God.

I remind you of the story of the woman who broke the alabaster box and wept over Jesus’ feet. Nobody really knows what her name is; some scholars believe it was Mary. What we do know for sure: Jesus appreciated what she did. We also don’t know the widow’s name that stepped up to the temple offering box and threw in the “widow’s mite”, all of her living, but Jesus knows her name, and she is significant and important to Him.

One day you are going to get to heaven and you are going to find out everything you sowed into this life is still over there. You sowed it into His work. Embrace the understanding that Jesus Christ is the one who can make your life last forever.

Fearing the Future

“I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace
and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11

You don’t have to be afraid of what is going to happen tomorrow. Once you know the Lord Jesus Christ, the fear of the future can leave.

When my son, Ronnie, Jr. was a little boy, he loved to go with me on errands. Even when he was four or five years old, he would eagerly jump into the passenger seat even if it were a quick trip. Looking back, I think it is significant that not once did he say, “Daddy, do you have enough gas in the car?”  “Daddy, do you have any money with you?”  “Daddy, do you really know the directions to where are we going?”

You see, he didn’t have to ask those questions. He put his little hand in my hand, and that was all he needed. He was ready to go, because he trusted me. He knew that if he was with me, his needs would be met in abundance. Whether it was a soda from the gas station or a quick trip through fast food drive-through, he knew he wouldn’t go hungry on our trip. If he needed a restroom, Daddy would find one. And he could trust that Daddy would know the way back home when it was time.

I can’t predict to you what will happen in your future. But, I can tell you this, as a believer, what is waiting for you in eternity is wonderful and you don’t have to worry.

My co-host on Ron Phillips from Abba’s House, Angie McGregor, wrote this beautiful song about conquering fear. Listen, and let the fear melt away…

Today’s blog adapted from my book Everyone’s Guide to Demons and Spiritual Warfare Copyright © 2010 Ron PhillipsPublished by Charisma House Book Group