Thursday, December 12, 2013

Jesus is the Reason (A Guest Post)

Hey friends! Crazy busy week wrapping up the Noonday season and whatnot, so today I have a SPECIAL treat for you! I'd like for you to meet my precious friend Rachel. LOVE her heart for Jesus, her desire to make her marriage work, and her passion for making her home the happiest of happy places to be. I've been there, and let me just tell you-- it's one of the happiest places ever. And today she's going to share with you some ways you can work to keep Christmas focused on Jesus. LOVE her heart and LOVE her ideas even more!

Hello there everyone. What a joy it is for me to be able to join my sweet friend McCall over here today to share my heart with you all. It is kinda funny how McCall and I came to know each other. We actually met via Instagram, crazy but such a blessing. All of you know about Noonday, thanks to McCall and her passion for the company, but McCall came to my house and allowed me to host a trunk show and we clicked right away. Social media is the best. So again, I am grateful for McCall and her allowing me to do this.

 Anyways, I guess a little bit about me. My name is Rachel Cox, I am a recent college grad, and newlywed. I didn't think graduating college was a big enough change so I threw marriage in there two weeks after graduation. But really, I am married to my best friend who is working on his PhD in Civil Engineering at Mississippi State University. We live in Starkville, MS in a super old Victorian home that has been divided into apartments...old things make me happy. I work for a new church plant here called Redeemer Church, and I work primarily with college students at MSU through our college ministry called Four Corners Mission Network. I love Jesus with everything that I am, and I strive to make my life about making his name known and proclaiming his true gospel to those around me. I love to create in my free time, and thankfully I am married to an engineer with a passion for woodworking and using his hands so I call on him a lot.  Also, I love to blog, check out my random thoughts, recipes, and our latest projects over at Oh Simple Thoughts. But enough about me...let's get to the reason I am here. Jesus.

In the midst of Christmas, I wanted to provide some perspective or encouragement about what it is we as Christians are called to really observe and celebrate during this month of festivities. Many of you have heard of Advent I am sure, and you may have a million different thoughts or opinions on what you think it is. I know some people celebrate Advent by giving candy or gifts each day to their children to get them more excited than they already are about Christmas day, or some use the Jesse Tree to celebrate this time leading up to Christmas. I am not going to use this post to say one is better than the other...but I want to challenge us to stop and consider what we do during this holiday season and why we do it. 

Christmas for the believer is a time of true celebration. Why? Well I can tell you it is not because of decorations, lights, hot chocolate, presents, or even time with family, though all these things are so wonderful to enjoy. No, Christmas is about celebrating that our Savior God, who is almighty and so worthy of our praise, became flesh, and dwelt among us. (John 1:14) He became fully human, "so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people." (Hebrews 2:17) So for this reason we celebrate. We were a people without hope, dead in our sins and carrying out the passions of our flesh (which these things by the way do not have to manifest themselves in what we may consider "obvious sins", the passions of our flesh can be glorifying ourselves through a perfectly decorated and clean home, or an excessive amount of spending on gifts, or become self absorbed and making life about us...) But despite all this God sent his son, to become our hope. (Ephesians 2)

I could go on and on about the importance of this idea, but I encourage you to preach the gospel to yourself daily, whether you have been a Christian since childhood or for only a few years. We all need to be reminded of the hope that only is found in the person of Jesus Christ. We are filled with hope, so we celebrate Christmas out of the overflow of joy that comes from being filled with that hope of salvation. So where does Advent fit into all this? Well I think that it is an excellent thing to do, that practically can prepare our hearts for a celebration rooted in hope and not materialism. Advent is simply a time of prayer, fasting, and anticipation of what is to come. For Ben (my husband) and I we made an Advent calender and filled each day with verses about Jesus' birth. Some are prophecies and some are directly from the accounts of Jesus' birth. We read these most every night and talk through them together. We also included various Christmas activities for each day, such as take a baked item to a neighbor, drink hot chocolate, sleep under the Christmas tree, make a Christmas ornament. 

We want to enjoy all the things we love about Christmas too so please do not read this post and think you can never do fun Christmas things again without feeling guilty for not focusing on Christ's birth. No, out of the overflow of hope, rejoice, and drink some homemade hot chocolate with your sweetheart and kids. I think this is a time to be enjoyed and a time for us to slow down. However, the reason we enjoy and slow down is not because of family, time off work and out of school, gifts, giving, or amazing is all rooted in the gospel, just as everything in our life should be. In Acts 20:24 Paul says, "But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." That is a powerful statement...our reason for life is to testify to the Gospel. The gospel that begins in the hope found in a baby's birth, Jesus Christ. So why not make Christmas about Christ, and not us. Why not teach our families and children to rejoice in the Lord during this month and not gifts. This is such a prime time to teach the gospel to others.

So I encourage you all now, to stop. Praise the Father for sending his son, born of a virgin, in a humble manger, to become the redeemer for us and our ever increasing sin. He is worthy of our praise today, friends, praise him, not gifts, or activities relating to Christmas, but praise HIM. I hope and pray this encourages you the way it encouraged me. As I have been pondering what to write I have become so excited about the Gospel and my amazing Father God. I pray you experience the same excitement. 

Would love to hear from you all, and to meet some more social media friends just like McCall. Check out my blog, Oh Simple Thoughts, if you have some time and say hey! Blessings to you and yours this Holiday Season, and Merry Christmas!

xoxo- Rachel Cox

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