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December 27, 2003
Column #1,165

The Christmas Promise: You Can Be a New Person

     Once a decade I hear a sermon I envision as a column. Rev. Lon Solomon, a Jewish convert who created McLean Bible Church, a megachurch in the Washington suburbs - preached one on Sunday.

     He described the life of Judy Garland, who starred in the 1939 "Wizard of Oz." She made 32 movies, appeared in 1,100 theaters, recorded 100 singles, such as "Over the Rainbow." But she married five times, struggled with weight gain and drank heavily and committed suicide at age 47.

     "If career success, Tony and Grammy Awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame did not make her life worth living, Judy Garland did not need a new movie role," Solomon asserted. "She needed to become a new person. All of us need to become new people to make our lives worth waking up for,"

     "The good news of the Bible is that we can become new people." II Cor. 5:17 says, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"

     "This is what Christmas is all about. It is not about tinsel, sleighs, but about Jesus Christ coming to give you and me a new life." He cited four new spiritual commodities that any may have in a new relationship with Christ:

     1. "We get a new relationship with God." Every person is a sinner. It's as if human nature had a defective gene. However, John"s Gospel says, "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed...he gave the right to become children of God."

     The benefits of such a relationship? "God is no longer remote. He is there 24 hours a day when we need Him. He promises to defend and protect us, to personally comfort us in the storms of life, to answer our prayers, to be our personal guide through the maze of life."

     2. "There is a new power over your passions." I visited my father in the hospital after he had an operation to remove lung cancer. He was smoking a cigarette. I was stunned, and asked "Isn't lung cancer enough for you to give up smoking?" Sadly, he replied, "I can't."

     Many people cannot control their passions. When he was in college, Lon Solomon says, "I smoked pot 5-6 times a day and dropped LSD 5-6 times a week. I had a gambling addiction and was running from police. I was out of control and I knew it. My passions would destroy me. But as hard as I tried to stop, I could not.

     "However, Jesus Christ gave me a new power to subdue my passions, when I accepted him in 1971."

     3. "We get a new purpose for living," declared Solomon. He noted that Macbeth even murdered to gain the throne of Scotland. But later he said, "Life is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing."

     "However, Christ gives a new purpose for living that brings meaning and fulfillment and satisfaction." II Cor. 5:15 defines the new reality: "He died for us so that we no longer live for ourselves, but for Him who died and rose again on our behalf."

     Solomon said that instead of living for himself, Christ "gave me a reason to be alive that stretches into eternity."

     4. "We get a new assurance about immortality." I saw my father just before he died. His lung cancer had returned. Each breath was difficult, though he had an oxygen clip. He had been adulterer and almost bragged about it when I was a teenager.

     I asked, "Dad, with the end near, why not ask God for forgiveness of your sins?" He sadly replied, "It is too late. I have lived my life in a way I will probably end up in hell. To change now would be hypocritical." He died without hope.

     Had he read the Bible I gave him, he would found a new assurance of immortality to replace his bankrupt one. John 3:36 says, "He who believes in me has eternal life."

     Dwight L. Moody, a 19th Century evangelist, reflected: "Some day you will read in the papers that Dwight L. Moody has died. Don't you believe a word of it. At that moment I will be more alive than I am at this moment. I shall have gone up higher, that's all. Out of this old clay tenement, I go to a house that is immortal, a body that death cannot touch, that sin cannot taint."

     Solomon concluded, "That kind of assurance is available, but it is only available in Jesus Christ."

     That's a true Christmas message.

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