Seasonal Affective Christianity

You may know someone who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). You may even be one of those people who struggle with SAD. Those “short days” of winter come along and shortened periods of sunlight begin to take a toll on some people. Depression sets in with all the side effects. The winter solstice finally comes, and the increase of sunshine begins to brighten not only one’s days but one’s countenance as well. Still the negative effects can linger, weakening the body and soul of the stricken. Well, just as seasons can affect our psychosomatic well-being, I’d suggest that seasons can affect our Christian faith as well. The thesis of this article is to show how important it is for us not to live our Christian lives according to seasonal holidays even if they are good holidays.

Right away, I tremble with fear and trepidation that some of you will stop reading. But please hear me out on this. I’m not some rabid “neo-Puritan” when it comes to the church calendar. I do love and appreciate the Puritans, but please do not think I’m peddling some hyper-ascetic approach to holidays. I often preach sermons about the incarnation of our lovely Savior . . . sometimes in December. I preach crucifixion and resurrection sermons knowing the power of the gospel to save sinners . . . in the springtime. Yes, we sing about the resurrection in concentration during the weeks leading up to Easter. Yes, we sing about the coming of God the Son to take on flesh throughout the month of December.

When I say that we ought not live our lives according to holidays, I say this out of concern for the spiritual appetite and growth of the church. Why is this a concern for me? Well, I think it tends to stunt the growth of believers when we stress seasons. Seasonal Affective Christianity (SAC) sets in. I think that such an occasional focus on “seasonal doctrines” weakens the church. For instance, to think about the incarnation of our Lord only or primarily when Christmas is approaching may lower the believer’s esteem for and contemplation of the miraculous coming of the second person of the holy Trinity the rest of the year. Neglecting such contemplation year round has a weakening effect on Christians and the church. Why should the bulk of Christians have their attention drawn to the resurrection only or primarily in the spring? The resurrection is a vital source for our hope in the midst of the sinful and perverse world that we live in every day. Both the incarnation and the resurrection keep our minds fixed on the supernatural. This is vital for healthy Christians, especially when you think about the overwhelming naturalistic culture in which we live.

We should want to leave His weekly worship humming the great anthems and psalms that meditate on and glory in His full person and His complete work.

That said, let me encourage the church of our glorious God and Savior to shift from a seasonal approach to a weekly and daily approach to God’s truths. I want to inspire the church to think all year round about the grand doctrines of the church, but especially those that pertain to our blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Why shouldn’t we cast our minds and hearts on the eternality of our Savior on every Lord’s Day and not only a few times a year? We would promote a much “larger” Savior if we constantly made the point of His eternality. Why shouldn’t we have our minds drawn to His condescending love, whereby He took on flesh, not just a few days a year but on every Lord’s Day? By doing so, we would emphasize the truth of His great humiliation whereby He saved sinners from their sin. Why shouldn’t we instruct His people with the truth of His obedience to the law, obedience that allows us to have life forever and enjoy it now? Why shouldn’t we grip the minds of the dear lambs of God with the sacrificial death of our Savior, so their sins might be forgiven and divine wrath subverted? And what would be wrong with this being constantly, not occasionally, before the church? Why shouldn’t the resurrection of our glorious hope be weekly embedded into the very act of our worship? After all, the Lord’s Day is no longer on the seventh day but the first day because of the resurrection.

I can imagine objections such as this: “Well, for one thing, our pastors can’t preach all the doctrines all the time.” That may be true, but what about our confessions of sin, confessions of faith, pastoral prayers, and psalms and hymns? If our worship is full orbed, we should be able to touch on all things related to our Savior’s person and work week after week. As we do so, the saints begin to think holistically about a Savior who is great and greatly to be praised. I fear our seasonal approach to doctrine—even the doctrine of Christ—inadvertently suggests a Jesus who is too small. Several decades ago, the Anglican J.B. Phillips wrote that little book Your God Is Too Small. Without endorsing the book in toto, I would say he made some good points on how we make God little in people’s minds, just as perhaps our seasonal approach to Christ Jesus makes Jesus too small.

So, how can we keep Jesus from appearing less than He is on every occasion of worship? Well, as I said, we can be sure our worship services make Him larger than life. Then His people will go out to live daily with a larger-than-life Savior. So, pastors, let’s include matters of praise and thanks in our pastoral prayers that exalt His totality. Let’s be sure, ministers of the gospel, that our confessions of sin speak to His incarnation, His death, and His resurrection. Let’s utilize those historic creeds that spell out His eternality, His incarnation, and His living power. Oh, and here is one thing so easily implemented, but often neglected: sing the psalms and hymns of His promised coming, His coming in flesh, His perfect life, His death, His resurrection, and His coming again. Sing them all and sing them year round. Spread the incarnation hymns throughout your liturgy throughout the year, not just annually. Insert the resurrection hymns in your worship year round. We should want to leave His weekly worship humming the great anthems and psalms that meditate on and glory in His full person and His complete work. Then there will be fewer Christians suffering from the spiritual malaise ushered in by Seasonal Affective Christianity. He is magnificent. He is amazing. He is spectacular. He is gargantuan. Let’s present Him that way all the time—not just seasonally.

9 Lies the Devil Tells Single Christians

  • Hope BolingerCrosswalk.com Contributing Writer
9 Lies the Devil Tells Single Christians

Singles Christians, it seems, can get bombarded from all sides in spiritual attack. From social media to even sometimes within the walls of our own churches, lies can come from every direction and fill the minds of those who walk faithfully in the Lord.

If you are a single Christian, you may have heard one of the following lies. This article will attempt to show you some ways to combat this any time you hear this false witness from the devil.

Photo Credit: Unsplash/PaolaChaaya

1. "You are not complete unless you have a spouse."

1. “You are not complete unless you have a spouse.”

Whether a Christian has divorced multiple times or is well into their thirties with no seeming spouse on the horizon, believers may feel as though they are not completely whole without a ring and a husband or wife attached to them.

How to combat this lie: Know that completeness cannot and will not ever come from other people. They cannot fill the God-shaped hole in our hearts, only God can do that. Salvation comes from God, not from a future spouse. If He intends for you to marry another believer in the future, then that is part of His plan. But if not, that does not make you any less of value than a Christian who has a significant other.

Scripture: But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the LORD.’ (Jonah 2:9)

2. “You’re on a timer for marriage.”

At 22, I’ve had my family, church body, and various other Christians badger me for the past four years about when I will find my significant other. After all, my older sister married at 22, mom at 19, grandmother at 18.

What was taking me so long?

Seeing that God doesn’t intend for me at this current time to pursue a long-term relationship, I can often feel that pressure to rush a relationship. Any time I mention a name of the opposite sex, it can raise eyebrows as they begin typing his name into social media to track him down.

How to combat this lie: God makes everything beautiful in his time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). He operates on a completely different schedule than ours. God didn’t tell Sarah, “Well, you’re in your 90s, so that hinders me from being able to allow you to have a baby” (Genesis 21). If God has a spouse in line for you, He doesn’t have an expiration date on when He will and can bring that person into your life.

Scripture: He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.(Ecclesiastes 3:11)

3. “Marriage will erase any troubles.”

Cognitively, I know we can figure that this is a flat-out lie.

But sometimes filtered Instagram wedding photos and cute anniversary pictures can make it seem like married couples faced fewer worries in life. Even I made the mistake of thinking my sister had it easier than myself because she had a husband she could confide in.

How to combat this lie: Know often marriage brings more obstacles and trials than single life does. Although not always the case, we do have to keep in mind that marriages happen between two imperfect people. They often bring in a great deal of past trauma, poor conflict skills, and, well, sin. No one really, “Has it easy.”

Scripture: But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this. (1 Corinthians 7:28)

Photo credit: Pixabay



4. "You should use this time to track down a spouse."

4. “You should use this time to track down a spouse.”

Singles do often have something married couples do not: time.

One reason the devil may hone our focus on getting a spouse is because he would rather us do that than use the time we have for something else, such as missions. Yes, by all means, if you want to explore Christian dating, and you feel God calling you in that direction, you should follow His plan.

But do keep in mind, Satan will try to hijack whatever free time you have so you can’t use it for God’s kingdom.

How to combat this lie: Analyze how much time you spend on pursuing a future spouse, whether it takes over your thoughts, or you spend hours on dating apps or at blind dates people in your church may set up for you. Ask yourself if there are ways you can be better spending your time to change God’s kingdom.

Scripture: But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33) 

5. “Singleness is a curse.”

It’s not.

Sometimes our churches make it out to be this way, even though the Apostle Paul lauded singleness as a gift (1 Corinthians 7).

Satan will do whatever he can to twist any good gift from God. How He twists singleness is by convincing Christians and entire congregations that God has somehow cursed a believer if He does not give them a spouse.

How to combat this lie: View singleness as a gift. See how the extra time this gift gives you can open up opportunities to serve more, love more, and bring back glory to God.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 7

6. “You’re not good enough/mature enough for a spouse.”

I didn’t like some chapel speakers who came to our Christian high school, because they would often say, “Maybe God isn’t sending you a significant other because you need time to mature before you can get into a marriage.”

Or, “How can you expect someone to love you if you don’t love yourself?”

Or, “You need to be OK to be single before God will grant you a spouse.”

Yes, I got these talks since I was about fourteen.

Each of the above quotes goes askew for a number of reasons. First, the comparison game never works. I’m sure we could argue we’re more mature than some Christians who have entered marriage, etc. Second, if marriages rested on the need to love yourself enough, no marriages would take place. Third, I’ve known plenty of Christians who wanted to be married, got married, and never went through long periods of singleness.

How to combat this lie: Similar to Job’s talks with his friends, God does not withhold something because of something you did in the past or some attitude you need to adopt. Job’s friends were convinced he lost his family, home, and health because of some past sin. They were, of course, wrong. In the same way, God does not withhold a spouse because of your past or some attitude you need to reflect. He makes everything happen according to his plan.

Scripture: In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. (Job 1:22)

Photo credit: Unsplash/Jason Wong

7. "You'll never have kids if you don't get married."

7. “You’ll never have kids if you don’t get married.”

I knew many girls in college who were baby-obsessed. Several of them wanted to get married simply for the fact they could have kids if they had a husband.

How to combat this lie: Of course, one can point to adoption as an option, as more single parents are able to adopt children than before. But even if you cannot have an adopted or biological child, God will find ways to use your heart for children to bring glory to His kingdom. Maybe you’ll volunteer at the church’s children’s ministry or help a single mom who needs a caretaker for her child as she works during the day.

Scripture: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)

8. “You’ll never experience intimacy.”

Since our culture thrives on sex, we often forget intimacy comes in different ways.

The Greeks had several words for love, which have disappeared in our language. We need to know love extends far beyond romantic gestures and procreation.

Otherwise, by that definition, Mother Theresa, the Apostle Paul, and Jesus himself did not know the meaning of love. Which, of course, we know to be a complete and utter lie.

How to combat this lie: Explore other ways to show love to others.

Scripture: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

9. “Everyone gets married except for you.”

Satan likes to isolate believers and make them think they are going through something alone or that no one else understands quite what it’s like to be us. Without community of those with shared understandings, we have to engage with these experiences alone.

Not to mention, social media often likes to expand this sense of isolation. We see marriage post after marriage post and think everyone has a spouse except for us.

How to combat this lie: Examples from Scripture alone can show us not everyone gets married. All the disciples, except for Peter, Paul, Daniel, and many more were single their entire lives. Find someone at your church, life group, or other Christian organization and share your experiences as a single Christian. You’ll find you may share a lot more in common than you think.

Scripture: Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

If you ever find yourself confronted by one of these lies, turn to Scripture or seek out a friend in the single Christian community who has heard and dealt with one of these lies before. Don’t let Satan isolate you, but seek out help from Christians and from the Lord, and they will show you the truth: that you are loved and that God has a plan for you.

Photo credit: Unsplash/Steven Van Loy


Hope Bolingeris a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a recent graduate of Taylor University’s professional writing program. More than 350 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer’s Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column “Hope’s Hacks,” tips and tricks to avoid writer’s block, reaches 6,000+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young’s blog. Her modern-day Daniel, “Blaze,” (Illuminate YA) just released, and they contracted the sequel for 2020. Find out more about her here.

Transformation Garden

The Fragrance Of His Presence
Blocked By A Boulder 

Today’s Study Text:

“Now Jesus, again sighing repeated and deeply disquieted, approached the tomb. It was a cave (a hole in the rock), and a boulder lay against [the entrance to close it].

John 11: 38

Amplified Bible

 

Exploration:

“The faith of Christian believers is like that of pilgrims on a journey. They have to face many obstacles both within themselves and from society.”

Tissa Balasuriya

Sri Lankan Theologian

 

Thoughts for Consideration:

What “boulder” is blocking my way?

Do I have the faith to believe that my Master has already taken care of moving the boulder even though I may not recognize the fact at this particular moment?

“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.”

Author Unknown

 

Inspiration:

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.”

Hannah More

Through the years, as I have read many biographies, the books written about Leonardo da Vinci have more than interested me. As a young child, da Vinci’s brilliance became evident as he excelled in his study of mathematics and music – quite a fascinating combination.

As time moved on, da Vinci developed his love for art as a painting apprentice. Not satisfied with keeping his interest locked in one specific area, he “studied and sketched rock formations, caves and fossils.” Later in life he found “a niche at inventing machines like the helicopter, diving suit, and the submarine.” Called the “mind of the Renaissance,” this amazing man understood something about overcoming obstacles. As he observed, “Obstacles cannot crush me.” This was certainly true in his own life. But he added this important caveat: “He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind.” Earlier this week, as I looked up at the starry sky late at night, I found my “star point” which for me happens to be a constellation called The Pleiades. My reason for liking this cluster of stars so much is that in the book of Job, The Pleiades are mentioned twice. In fact, Job credits his Father in heaven with creating “the constellations the Bear, Orion, and the ‘loose cluster’ Pleiades, and the vast starry spaces of the south” (Job 9: 9, Amplified Bible). Then in Job 38: 31, God had a question for His friend Job. “Can you bind the chains of [the cluster of stars called] Pleiades, or loose the cords of the [constellation] Orion?”

The reason I reference these two passages is that at those times in my own life when I have felt that the obstacles in my path seem to be overwhelming, I take a few moments late at night to focus on the heavens and my eyes traverse the sky for the familiar bunch of stars that Job looked at thousands of years ago. I’m reminded that a Creator who could hang the Pleiades in space, is more than capable enough to move any boulder that “Dorothy” may encounter in her life.

It is comforting to recognize that when I’m over-whelmed, God is not. And when I’m standing in front of a grave with a boulder blocking the entrance, the presence of the King of the Universe makes it impossible for me to feel that I can’t go on or that I’ll most-likely stumble somewhere along the way.

How encouraging it should be to us that as the people surrounding Lazarus’ tomb looked at the rock cave and the boulder blocking the entrance, little did they know that with Jesus in their midst, there was absolutely no reason to be concerned about what could appear to be an impediment.

The fact is that those in the crowd most likely never considered the far-fetched notion that Jesus could give life to a decomposing corpse. That was probably the last thing on their minds. And lest we make the same mistake, I would add that in your life and mine, when the most challenging events block our way, we would do well to keep our minds open and our eyes focused heavenward on the “Son” — that “Star” in the sky — our Creator and Guide, for when we do, we will not lose our way.  The impossible will become possible.  The unheard of will be heard.  And the unimaginable will take place to the glory of God, right before our eyes.

Whenever, because of life’s hardships, we find ourselves prone to be diverted because of the rock at the mouth of the cave rather than the “Restorer of Life” at our side, may we remember that as commentator Matthew Henry so astutely notes in writing about the Pleiades, “The stars of which these are composed are put into that order by God who still preserves them in being and guides their motions…they are under divine direction and dominion. How wise is God then and how Mighty.” And indeed, He can and will clear your path of absolutely any obstacle which appears to block your way today.

“Our Lord and Saviour lifted up His voice and said with incomparable majesty, ‘Let all know that grace comes after tribulation. Let them know that without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace. Let them know that the gifts of grace increase as the struggles increase.”

Rose of Lima

“’I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer, [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you].’”

Jesus

John 16: 33

 

 

Amplified Bible

 

Affirmation:

Roll Back The Stone

“When we are all despairing;

when our lives are full of grief;

when we can see no way ahead,

and hope has gone away:

Roll back the stone.

Although we fear the future;

although we are not ready for what is to come;

although we would rather weep and run away;

Roll back the stone.

Because we trust our Master;

because we will hope where hope

appears to be in vain;

because You call us from the grave

and show us Your way:

Roll back the stone.”

Janet Morley

Adapted

 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of sympathy (pity and mercy) and the God [who is the Source] of every comfort, (consolation and encouragement). Who comforts (consoles and encourages) us in every trouble, (calamity and affliction), so that we may also be able to comfort those who are in any distress, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

II Corinthians 1: 3,4

Amplified Bible 

Your friend,

Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus

[email protected]

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