Category Archives: Holidays

In the Spirit of Lent

As I prepare to preach through Lent to Easter, I’ve been contemplating the meaning of this season. It’s a time of much-needed inner reflection for the church. It couldn’t come at a better time in my own life right now. And I suspect for everyone else as well.

The season of Lent covers the six weeks leading up to Easter Sunday. It’s a time of preparation as the church looks forward to Passion week and celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. This season involves an intentional focus on inner reflection through prayer, repentance, and self-denial. It is when we become acutely aware of our own brokenness and need for salvation.

Why do I need this season? I need it because I’m often tempted to look at others instead of myself. How can I help others? What is wrong with “the world” and how can I can help to transform it? As a pastor and teacher, it’s easy to live in this mode of existence. It’s easy to ignore what’s on the inside.

Also, I have noticed that as Christians we often need a little balance in our lives—equilibrium in our faith and practice. I think it’s possible to live in God’s love and grace, learning to live in freedom, and then forget something that is critical about ourselves and the gospel: we’re sinners saved by grace.

Bonhoeffer said that “cheap grace” is grace without discipleship, grace without repentance and the cross. Costly grace reminds us that practicing self-denial and repenting of sin is the call of every Christian.

Sin isn’t to be taken lightly.

Sin is “missing the mark” of God’s holy and righteous character, which is fully expressed in Christ. It’s a misuse of human energies, a breakdown in divine fellowship, and of human community. Sin is rebellion within the human heart against God’s best for his creation. It’s a spiritual distortion within humanity.

“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.” 1 Peter 2:11 NIV

We can’t be lazy and careless on our journey with Christ in community. We must be intentional in the working out of our salvation (Phil 2:12). We need to remember the sin that is at work in us and the urgency of having it removed from us. This then requires us to look in the mirror, allowing God to chisel away the rough edges. The chiseling may hurt a little.

You can feel it when the cross meets your flesh.

Let us agree with Paul and claim this salvific truth concerning our identity:

“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It’s no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Gal 2:20 NLT

So what about those sinful inclinations? How are we doing with temptation? Are we, by the power of Christ, overcoming sin at work in our lives? What measures are we taking to stamp out our anger, our lust, our gossip, our greed, and our cynicism? Have we allowed anything to become an idol in our lives?

Are we counting ourselves dead to sin and alive in Christ?

I do believe that Lent is also a good time to reflect on the problem of evil. Things are not as they should be. And if we’re going to walk in God’s love and grace through the purging process, we need to know from whence evil comes, and why we struggle with sin in the first place.

“Consider this: sin entered our world through one man, Adam; and through sin, death followed in hot pursuit. Death spread rapidly to infect all people on the earth as they engaged in sin.” Rom 5:12 VOICE

If we do not accept that the cosmos is not as God intended it to be, as a result of human sin on the earth and angelic (demonic) rebellion in the creative evolutionary processes of the primordial past, then we will inevitably attribute evil to God, instead of acknowledging the culprits who are responsible—ourselves and Satan who is the “god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4; Eph 2:2). Blaming God cuts us off from our only source of strength and salvation.

I submit to you that if there is any place in our hearts that wants to attribute evil to God, including our so-called “natural” proclivities, this makes naming our sins and repenting of them all the more difficult.

We will say things like, “Well, God made me/them this way” or “God is to blame for evil” in my life and the world. But if we accept that Jesus of Nazareth is the God-man, fully human and fully divine, we know the truth about the Creator and his good will for us. Christ reveals the divine will for our broken humanity.

We know that God in Christ is bringing order to the chaos. The good news of the Kingdom is that God has taken responsibility for the free world he created by becoming a human being and experiencing the darkness of our fall. He took up our sin and rebellion and nailed it to the cross (Col 2:13-15).

Jesus was crucified and raised for our sanctification. He calls out a people, a church, to accept this free gift and transform this broken world by the power of his Spirit. He wants us to participate in sorting it all out.

Sin has been rendered powerless. Death has lost its sting! Christ took on the powers of darkness and defeated them through holy living, even unto death. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead has been given to us.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:3 NIV

What will we do with the Spirit’s power this Lent? Will we quench the Spirit or will we let him have his way in us? The future of the church is wrapped up in the way we respond to the Spirit that is at work in the world, seeking to reconcile all things to God, and bring healing to the nations (Col 1:19-21).

Be strong and courageous. Call sin what it is and repent of it.

Stop looking at the sins of others, and reflect inwardly toward your own need for sanctification. It is there that we will find healing for our souls in this season of renewal. Blessings on the journey.

D.D. Flowers, 2014.

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Merry Christmas from Flowers Family

Dear friends, I want to thank you for following The Centrality & Supremacy of Jesus Christ. Some of you have been reading the blog since it all began five years ago. And many of you have joined in the last year or so. Thank you!

I’m truly humbled that you read and give serious thought to my writings. It is so very encouraging to know that we are on a meaningful journey together.

It’s been a great year here at the blog. I covered some of the blog highlights for 2013 in my last post, 2013 in Review.

I have enjoyed hearing from many of you this year, and hope to hear from even more of my readers in 2014. Thank you for taking time to add to the conversation. Your thoughts and feedback are edifying to me as a Christian thinker and writer. And I’m grateful for the relationships that have formed online, via social networking and the blogosphere.

It’s not only been an exciting year here at the blog, but also in life and ministry. Back in September, I announced that I will be pastoring a small Anabaptist congregation in Virginia. Our family will be moving over the holidays to begin an exciting new adventure together.

We would appreciate your prayers for a smooth and peaceful transition as we leave our friends and family in Texas. We take comfort in knowing that the Spirit is leading us. And what a fitting season to make this change!

Advent—Hope for a New Beginning

Advent is the season of expectation, waiting, and preparing to celebrate the parousia (coming) of Christ. The old is gone, the new has come!

I’ve given a lot of thought to what it’s like to wait and anticipate something good from the Lord. I’ve been waiting about 9 months for a move onto the next step of vocation and ministry. It has been a very trying time.

The wait has allowed time for God to work out many details of our life in order to bring about an exciting change, but it has also been an intense season of introspection, as well as general reflection over the last 14 years.

Advent and the Christmas season is like that as we look forward to Christ’s birth (and return) to the world. We believe in the future, but are painfully aware of the present. We see signs of life and resurrection, but we’re all too familiar with sorrow and death. Advent recognizes this cosmic tension.

From the perspective of expectant Jews living in first-century Palestine, waiting for the Messiah was a complicated mix of hope and despair.

As they awaited redemption and renewal by God, they were aware of both light and darkness. We also experience this today as we wait patiently for God to show up and save us, and keep his merciful promises to us.

The presence of Christ through the power of his Spirit assures us that God is with us. For he is Emmanuel, “God with us” (Matt 1:23).

Remember God’s perfect salvation to us in Christ this Advent season, right here and now. And celebrate what is not yet, but is sure to come.

Let the first and third stanzas of one of my favorite hymns assist you.

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

From the Flowers Family (David, Lanna & Kainan) to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Greater things are yet to come!

May the Lord richly bless you this holiday season.

Your Bro, David

Other Related Posts:

D.D. Flowers, 2013.


Merry Christmas from Flowers Family

Dear Readers, I want to thank you for following The Centrality & Supremacy of Jesus Christ. Some of you have been following the blog since the very beginning (February 2008), and many of you have subscribed just this year.

Thank you! I’m humbled that you read my stuff.

I’m grateful for the increase in blog traffic since I began blogging several times a week back in October. I’m especially thankful for the feedback I receive from you. It is so very encouraging to know that we are on a journey together.

It is uplifting to be reminded that there are believers around the country and the world who are stumbling forward together in Christ.

I’m writing to you because I wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas, and inform you that this will be the last post until the end of the year. I do plan on posting a “2012 – Year in Review” just before the New Year.

Social networking and the blogosphere slow down to a crawl during the Christmas season. I don’t want anyone to miss the posts I have planned, so I’m gonna hold off until January.

I will be spending the next two weeks resting and celebrating with family and friends. A short break will also allow me to get some reading done while I’m not trying to keep up with teaching and writing.

Some of you may know that my wife and I were blessed by the birth of our firstborn son back on August 20th. Our Christmas will be extra-special this year with little Kainan in our lives.

For unto us a child was born!

(In case you’re wondering, “Kainan” is the Irish spelling of the biblical “Canaan” of the East.)

Please remember this Christmas season that we celebrate the coming of hope and peace into the world. God became human flesh (incarnation), and even now he dwells among us by his Spirit through the church.

We celebrate because Christ is King of the cosmos! He will soon return and rid the world of sin, death, and the devil.

I pray that this Christmas we will have a renewed sense of our identity as agents of new creation in the world. As we go forth… may we remember the real hope of Christmas.

Here are a few words from my favorite Christmas hymn:

Remember, Christ, our Savior, 

Was born on Christmas day

To save us all from Satan’s power

When we were gone astray

O tidings of comfort and joy

From the Flowers Family (David, Lanna & Kainan) to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas. May the Lord richly bless you this holiday season.

Your Bro, David

P.S. If you’re looking for a Christmas devotional, check out The Woman & the Dragon–Christmas in the Book of Revelation.

D.D. Flowers, 2012.


Greg Boyd on Christmas

Greg Boyd recently began a video Q&A over at ReKnew.org. I thought some of my readers might find his thoughts on Christmas helpful.

Is Christmas a pagan holiday? Should Christians celebrate Christmas? 

Questions and concerns about how (or even if) Christians should celebrate certain holidays are raised by the church every year.

Not long ago I created a section on the Archives page dedicated to holidays. My article on Halloween & the Gospel is oddly enough one of the most popular posts here at the blog. It’s clear people care about these issues.

You can expect more posts to come on holidays as we learn how to express our faith as a counter-cultural movement. It is clear that many Christians really want to do the right thing during the holidays. Sometimes we simply need to be reminded, challenged, and jolted into renewed action.

Listen to Greg give a brief history lesson and share his thoughts on how Christians should navigate through the Christmas season.

What do you think about what Greg has shared? How do you celebrate Christmas with your family? How can we celebrate Christmas without glorifying greed? Let’s be intentional in the way we celebrate this year.

D.D. Flowers, 2012.


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