Tag Archive | A Christmas Carol

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

On 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

Echoes of A Christmas Carol

DickensIn 1867, during a visit to Chicago, Charles Dickens read A Christmas Carol at a public reading. There was a man in the audience by the name of Fairbanks, who owned a factory. He was so moved by what he heard that he decided to break his tradition of being open on Christmas Day, and gave his employees the day off. Not only that, he gave a turkey to each and every employee.

We never know how the words that we speak will affect someone else, and how that can spread to affect many. Whether a literary masterpiece or a kind word spoken in secret, the tongue holds great powers of healing and encouragement.

As we begin this Christmas Season – the season of peace on earth and good will to men – may we all remember to let our words be seasoned with love, garnished with hope, and simmering with kindness and good cheer. May the love of Jesus be evident with every word we speak.

“And so, as Tiny Tim observed, ‘God bless us, every one.’”

When Legends Come to Life

Halloween is traditionally a time of ghosts, ghouls, and things that go bump in the night. For many, it is a time of parties, costumes, and candy (lots and LOTS of candy). According to Alliance Data Retail Services, Halloween is the fourth most popular holiday that prompts people to spend money, behind Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter.

Sleepy Hollow stampWhether it is stories and folklore from the likes of great authors such as Washington Irving or Charles Dickens (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and A Christmas Carol come to mind), or stories and characters based on actual historical figures that have morphed into legend, there has always been something about stories of suspense and mystery that intrigue people. One such popular Halloween figure is Dracula, who is actually based on Vlad III (Vlad the Impaler), Prince of Wallachia (Romania). A brutal and merciless killer, he preferred to be known as “Dracula”, which means “Son of the Dragon”.

Earlier this year, the movie Noah was released in theaters. While there was much of the story that deviated from the historical account we find in Genesis, one of the elements in the movie that drew an inordinate amount of attention were the Nephilim — if you saw the movie, they were represented by the giant “rock people”. Although the portrayal seemed rather fantastical, the producers of the film attempted to address something that is an often overlooked part of the Genesis account. It is one of those afore-mentioned historical facts that have morphed into legend (if not even cartoonish characters).

Caesarea By The Sea2

So, who were the Nephilim? Were they real or just figurative characters in the Bible? Let’s take a look…

Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. ~ Genesis 6:1-2 (NKJV)

Here we have the intermarriage of the descendants of Cain and Seth with embodied demons. This produced a race of people called “giants” in the English Bible. They are literally Nephilim, which means “fallen ones”.They occupied the land of Canaan (this view is supported by both Falvius Josephus and Philo Judaeus). These beings produced a subhuman or hybrid race prior to the Flood. These hybrid beings could be the beings that became the ancient mythological gods (see John Fleming’s The Fallen Angel and the Heroes of Mythology and Thomas Horn’s Nephilim Stargates). This race brought vile immorality, crime, terror, and war on the earth. We have a grievous picture of what this means in Numbers 13:32-33…

 And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” (NKJV)

As we can see, these hybrids were present when the children of Israel entered the land of promise.

David would finally wipe them out (we assume). The human race seems to have experienced this activity before the Flood, and in seizing Canaan during the Exodus. In the last days, this pit will be opened, and the Antichrist will be the seed of Satan born to a woman.

These fallen angels, Nephilim, left their own estate and cohabited with women and produced horror for the earth. These demons disrupted God’s order on earth. This is why the Flood came. It explains the order by God to kill the inhabitants of Canaan. Many of them were not fully human.

For the sake of clarity, it needs to be explained that while this initial population of Nephilim were eliminated by the Flood, the abomination happened again. In Genesis 6:4, we read…

There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. (NKJV)

This indicates that after the Flood, these fallen angels came again and procreated with “the daughters of men”.

So again… is it just a “story” from the Bible? Could it really have happened?

The wonderful aspect of this is that God’s Word is true, and truth does indeed “spring from the earth”. The subject of the Nephilim is, as some have said, “the elephant in the room” for the archaeological, anthropological, and scientific communities. Here are some interesting facts…

  • In AD 1692, a skeleton was found near Angers, France, of a man measuring seventeen feet, four inches.
  • In 1950, in the Euphrates Valley of Southeast Turkey, several tombs were found containing full skeletons of giants fourteen to sixteen feet tall.
  • Digs in China have uncovered skeletal remains of giants over fifteen feet tall.

But the evidence is not relegated to just skeletal remains…

  • I once visited the Heraklion Archaeological Museum in Crete, and there exists an exhibit of ancient bronze battle-axes from as far back as 1700 BC. This is not that unusual until you consider that the axes are over five feet in length. These are not, as some assert, decorative, but show signs of use in battle.
  • In the Great Orme Copper mine in the coastal town of Llandudno in North Wales, sledgehammers of over sixty pounds have been found. These hammers, used in the mining of copper, would have had handles of approximately nine feet.

You may say, “These are all very interesting stories, but what do they mean to me, for my life today?”

These things, and countless other facts, artifacts, and historical records bear out the truth of the Bible. “The rocks cry out” and declare the truth and glory of God! The psalmist bore witness that Creation itself testifies to the handiwork of God when he wrote…

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands. ~ Psalm 19:1 (NIV)

If we make the decision to ignore the empirical evidence that supports God’s Word, then we choose to live in ignorance and disbelief. However, if we choose to believe the Bible as truth, then we must believe it in it’s entirety. The same Word that tells stories of floods, giants, angelic visitations, and miracles also gives us this dire warning…

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. ~ Matthew 24:37 (NIV)

Immorality, crime, terror, war… any of this sounding familiar?

But there is also hope, for the same Word also gives us this promise…

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. ~ John 3:16 (NKJV)

Salvation is here, my friend. His Presence in your life is only a prayer away.

Pastor Ron

 

Much of today’s content was adapted from my book Unexplained Mysteries of Heaven and Earth
(Copyright © 2013 Ron Phillips, published by Charisma House).

Carols, Carnegie, & The Life of the Overcomer

One of the most loved Christmas stories of all time would have to be A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. There have been dozens of adaptations on film and television, dating back as far as 1901. One such version was An American Christmas Carol (1979) starring Henry Winkler as Benedict Slade (the Scrooge character). In the movie, his partner (and Jacob Marley parallel) is a shrewd businessman by the name of Jack Latham. When his ghost appears to Slade, he makes a profound observation…

Each day, each man is given a thousand chances — but they’re missed forever once they put you in the ground.

Holly and snowThere is a common saying that goes, “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” A similar sentiment can be said about failure… “The bitterness of failure will never be as bad as the bitterness of never having tried.”

Dale Carnegie once said that “discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones of success.”

So, here are my questions for you: Has God given you a task, but fear of failure has kept you paralyzed? Has past failure kept you in a place of darkness and despair?

If so, here are a couple of simple rules to live by…

1. Regardless of what you have done, God is bigger than your failure. Nothing takes Him by surprise, and no failure is final for anyone that trusts in Him.

2. If you find yourself doubting rule #1, God’s Word always rings true…

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. ~ Philippians 4:13

Whether success or temporary failure, with the Presence of God in your life, you’ll never go through it alone.

Echoes of A Christmas Carol

Through the Looking Glass

Dickens

In 1867, during a visit to Chicago, Charles Dickens read A Christmas Carol at a public reading. There was a man in the audience by the name of Fairbanks, who owned a factory. He was so moved by what he heard that he decided to break his tradition of being open on Christmas Day, and gave his employees the day off. Not only that, he gave a turkey to each and every employee.

We never know how the words that we speak will affect someone else, and how that can spread to affect many. Whether a literary masterpiece or a kind word spoken in secret, the tongue holds great powers of healing and encouragement.

As we begin this Christmas Season – the season of peace on earth and good will to men – may we all remember to let our words be seasoned with love, garnished with hope, and simmering with kindness and good cheer. May the love of Jesus be evident with every word we speak.

“And so, as Tiny Tim observed, ‘God bless us, every one.'”