Pastor Tom NEWTON
Word Will Not Return Void
Somewhere in a California city lived
a young man named Shane. Not much is known about Shane. He went to
a Christian high school, so someone in his family must have cared
about his spiritual well-being. Someone must have been praying for
him. He learned some of the Word of God in his studies.
But Shane did not seem to appreciate
this Christian influence. He began hanging out with the wrong crowd.
He learned to drink, and to do drugs. He enjoyed the "party"
atmosphere and made friends with members of a new rock band called
They spent their spare time sitting
around smoking dope, popping pills, and drinking. But they had
ambition: Society's Child was just about to cut their first album,
and they wanted to be the next Black Sabbath.
The music writer for the band was a
troubled young man in his early twenties. He wrote about death and
destruction--the sun falling from the sky, and "now it's our turn to
die." Shane was intrigued by these words, and one evening he spoke
to the writer.
know, the things you write about sound like they come right out of
the Book of Revelation in the Bible."
The writer thought this was a big joke,
and they all got a laugh out of it.
But the writer could not get that
statement out of his mind. The next week, he went to a bookstore
and bought a New Testament. He wanted to know more about this "Revelation."
It made absolutely no sense to him, so he started reading Matthew.
Somewhere in the gospels God got a hold of his heart, convicted him
of sin, and made him a new creature.
And Shane? We don't know what
happened to him. We hope that God got a hold of his heart, too. We
do know that God's Word does not return void, even when spoken in
jest by a kid high on drugs. For the rock and roller who once wrote
of death and despair now preaches God's amazing grace. He is Pastor
Tom Newton, of Calvary Baptist Church in Cornwall, Ontario.
A Real Christmas Carol
As we approach another
Christmas, I would like to reflect on Christmas before and after
becoming a Christian. For Christmas before becoming a
Christian was a day; to most of us it meant very little. This year,
Christmas will come and go, and it may have little or no impact on
your life. Christmas to many is the most depressing time of the
year. Often, we live in the past, hoping Christmas will never end,
thinking somehow life would be better, or have some meaning, if the
Christmases when we were children could be revisited. Those are
the best times to remember, we think. But as quickly as the
decorations go up, they are taken down and boxed away for another
year; so likewise our hopes and memories of Christmas past are
revived for a moment, but then we are forced to wake up and face
life in a New Year ahead. Not much has changed! But I am here to
write about myself, and not others: when it comes to Christmas,
things have really changed since I have become a Christian. How so?
You would think that after
becoming a Christian a minister of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus
Christ, Christmas would have even greater meaning, but in fact, it
does not! What was Christmas like before I became a Christian? I
must now pull down the box of Christmas past, and behold it is
filled with many sad memories. What made Christmas so bad? Sin!
Are you surprised?
My Christmas pasts were
not much different from any of yours, per se. I remember the
presents under the tree, the abundance of food, the time off from
school. I remember when the whole family gathered together---Wait,
that’s not true, I don’t remember a time when we were all gathered
together, for by then, Ma and Dad had already divorced because of
Dad’s drunkenness. My older brothers and sister could tell me about
such times, but I don’t recall them. Then my mother remarried, and
my step-Dad moved in, which was not so bad, for he was a good man, a
good provider, for a family of eight. But Christmas did not change
much. It was still without Christ!
As years went by, the
drunkenness continued, for my whole family were heavy drinkers. But
now I was old enough to enjoy and really get into the Christmas
spirit. Things had really changed by the time I got out of high
school. In what way? For one, My Dad had died with a beer can in
his hand, and my only sister was killed during my first year of
college; they called it domestic violence. It happened just after
American Thanksgiving. Christmas came that year as usual, but I can
say one thing for sure, my poor mother was never the same. An early
Christmas present, huh? It was sin that ruined Christmas--my sin,
my parent’s sin, all the way back to Adam’s sin. Enough of
What about Christmas
present? What has changed? Christmas has not, but I have! How
so? The light of the glorious gospel of Christ lit my sin-darkened
heart. That’s grace! It is not true that wise men still seek Him,
for the Word of God says, “As it is written, There is none
righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is
none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:10-11). The Christ of the
Bible found me in Los Angeles, California, trying to start a
rock-n-roll band, deep in sin: in drugs, drunkenness, witchcraft and
astrology, and immorality. Christmas then was just another day to
get high, to party, and to jam, but all that would change. How so?
It was not Christmas that
changed my life, nor pardoned my sins, nor gave me a new life. It
was knowing Christ--The Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the
World--by a miracle of grace! When I think of the incarnation, the
virgin birth, and the accounts of Christ’s birth as faithfully
recorded in the Bible for all to read, I do not think of Christmas.
I think of God’s unspeakable gift given to humanity, in the person
of His Eternal Son: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of
all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save
sinners; of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).
No one really wants to
talk about being a sinner and being in need of salvation at
Christmas time. It is “peace on earth, and good will towards men.”
Many say, “Christmas brings out the best in mankind.” But, in fact,
one must not forget that Christ was born to die, and to die at the
hands of sinners. Sinners like you and me! “But he was wounded for
our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the
chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are
healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
Christmas? I can take it
or leave it. The observance of a day means nothing compared to
knowing, loving and worshipping the True and Living God. You might
ask, “Preacher, why be such a grinch?” You see it is not I that has
stolen Christmas, but sin! I hope you come to see this, and by
God’s grace to call upon the only Name “under heaven given among
men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
I ask you not to pity me,
or feel sorry for me, as I have opened up my box of Christmas past
before you all. If all that you have is Christmas, and with it just
a bunch of boxes of memories of Christmas past and that’s all, you
are most miserable. One’s future can only be changed as one comes
to trust in the Christ of the Bible. Not the Christ of Christmas
past, present, or future, but in the risen, exalted Son of God, even
the Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ or Christmas?
Which one do you have? Which one do you love and value more? I
pray, as I can say by God’s grace, “It is Christ and Christ alone.
He is my all and all.” It is not what Christmas means to me it is
what Christ means to me!
Best wishes during this
holiday season to all of you from the Newton family, and from
Calvary Baptist Church.