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Watch 2022 online sermons » Joyce Meyer » Joyce Meyer - The Real Christmas: An Honest Christmas Conversation

Joyce Meyer - The Real Christmas: An Honest Christmas Conversation

Joyce Meyer - The Real Christmas: An Honest Christmas Conversation
TOPICS: Talk It Out, Christmas
Joyce Meyer - The Real Christmas: An Honest Christmas Conversation

Ginger Stache: Hi, everyone! Welcome to Joyce Meyer's Talk It Out podcast. You're in for some fun, because we're already laughing.

Erin Cluley: We are.

Ginger Stache: And it's hard to even get rolling here, because there's just a lot of giggling going on. This is where Joyce teaches the Word of God, in her practical, no-nonsense way. And my friends, and I, talk about the real stuff of living it. We are honest, we hold nothing back. I'm Ginger Stache, with Erin Cluley, and Jai. And we hope that you will consider yourself one of us, now. Come on, in here. We are gonna Talk It Out today. And this is the real talk. We're gonna talk about Christmas, but we're not just doing the, how to find good gifts, how to survive the season. You know, there's a lot of other people who are doing that stuff and doing it really well and we're appreciative. But we're gonna talk about the real Christmas. What this really needs to be about. And the difference between an "Instagram, reel Christmas," R-E-E-L. What everybody wants to show, you and what many people are dealing with. So, we just wanna get down and dirty about what life is like, sometimes. And how Christmas is an important part of, maybe, changing our attitude about all that.

Jai Williams: Yeah, a hundred percent. Christmas is definitely one of those moments where like, until I became an adult, I didn't realize how reflective I should have been. 'Cause it was always about like, the gifts, and the family, the da-da-dah, and this, the stress of all of the things. But the older I get, and especially, you know, going through certain things in my life, like now, it's just like, "Okay, what is the real reason, like, and how can how I," there's been a lot of transformation happening in my life. So, like, changing my mind, focusing on what really matters, focusing on the real reason, and allowing me to also just be still, and allow the change that's happening to really take root, you know.

Ginger Stache: Is it hard, cuz, I know it's hard for me, to just be still? I mean, like, those seem like, well, doing nothing should be really easy, but that's the hardest thing to do, sometimes.

Jai Williams: It's the hardest thing to do. But, honestly, this past thanksgiving was like, the start of it, for me. This is the most uncomfortable, I've been in a holiday. This is my first holiday, officially divorced. It was also my first thanksgiving without my daughter. And so, I did...

Ginger Stache: That's hard stuff.

Jai Williams: It was super hard. And, honestly, I didn't just stay still cuz I didn't wanna just be in the house. So, I did go on a trip. I've been traveling a lot just to see,to gain new perspective, too, like, and even if it's just like, a drive to like, a couple hours away, or,just to keep my perspective open. Because, right now, what Satan wants to do is to remind me of what was. Cuz those memories in my head, they still come up all the time. But he wants to remind me of what was, and make me sad over it, instead of having hope for the future. And so, I'm doing things. I can't just sit around and expect God to just make things happen. I'm doing things intentionally, like going on trips, going on like,or see, going on hikes, going on walks. Just looking at nature. Just doing things outside the box.

Ginger Stache: I am so proud of you. You have no idea what a big step this is.

Jai Williams: I cannot stand nature!

Erin Cluley: But you're doing it anyways.

Jai Williams: I've been so allergic, for all of my life.

Ginger Stache: Which does put a damper on being outside.

Jai Williams: "It's so beautiful, blah"! But it is helping me like, have a refreshed perspective on things. And so, this past thanksgiving, even I went to la. My brother lives there, but it was to see him, and visit a couple of friends, and do some music stuff. But it was also, just to be able to be still in a different environment, though. So...

Ginger Stache: So, when you say be still, what does that mean to you? What do you do?

Jai Williams: I didn't cook.

Erin Cluley: That's a big deal for you.

Jai Williams: That's a big deal. Yeah, like, it was hard. I'm used to going to the grocery store, getting things that everybody likes, and making sure that I get everything right. So, I didn't cook. I didn't get a specific outfit, you know. Like, usually, it's something themed, that we kinda like, dress alike on holidays, as we go and make our rounds around the different family members' houses and things like that. So, didn't do that. But I also, just sat in my hotel room and I door-dashed. It was hard. It was a difficult. But I wrote down things, I was grateful for. But I allowed myself to feel, because even in all the moving around, and what we show on social media, and things like that, like, it's, I'm crawling, you know. I'm crawling my way to see, get hope, and joy, and find some type of feeling of normalcy again. Which, I don't think, my normal will never be what normal was. But I wanted to feel it. I wanted to,not be depressed. I, eventually, went out with,and met up with a couple of friends and stuff. Most of the day, when I would usually be cooking, and hosting, and no, I just sat in the room, and I was, I prayed and I was thankful, journaled a little, and ate my doordash.

Erin Cluley: I think one thing that is really important, is that, like, that's hard and it's okay to stop for a second to say, "That was hard". Because it would be so easy say, but you did it, and you're moving forward. And great things are coming. But also, like, that was a hard day. And I'm sorry you had a hard day.

Jai Williams: Thank you. And that's one thing that I really appreciated about us, as a friend group, like, the Christianese, like, I didn't even realize how fluently I spoke it.

Erin Cluley: Yeah, we're good at it, aren't we?

Jai Williams: Yeah, and I used to be a person that I thought I was super real all along. I've always been a pretty, like, straight to the point, like, direct person. But how much Christianese we use, when it's like, we gotta stop doing that, cuz people are hurtin' and like,thank you for saying that. Thank you for taking a moment to say. Like, that was the toughest thing.

Erin Cluley: It's hard.

Jai Williams: It's tough thing to not have my kid with me. It's a tough thing to not have a spouse that, grant you, I don't want him, no more. But like, I miss what we were. I miss what I thought we were, so.

Ginger Stache: And I think that's so important because a lot of people, whether it's a situation like yours, or many other types of situations, whether they're alone, or they've lost someone that they have loved, or a job, or you know, financial issues, whatever it may be, health issues, there are a lot of people who are going into a holiday, going into Christmas with big heartaches.

Jai Williams: Big, huge heartaches.

Ginger Stache: And it's so easy to feel guilty for that, because this is supposed to be the time that everyone's happy. And it looks like everyone else is, because that's kind of the facade that everyone puts out there. And many people are, you know, I'm not trying to give the wrong impression. But as Christians, sometimes, we, I think, we neglect to address those things, and just say, "Jesus is the reason for the season". And of course, that's true. And that's what we're gonna talk about why Jesus matters in all of this, even through the pain. And what we want to get at, today, is this truth that changes things in our lives, in our celebration of Christmas. No matter what's going on, we've got to get to something real to make a difference. And so, I was reading in John chapter 1, and I love this so much because it's a whole different revelation of who, this baby, Jesus is. Cuz we like to leave Jesus as that little baby in the manger. But it started, and it says, "In the beginning was the word, and the word was God". And when you think about the word being the Bible, and God being always, always there, he gave us his word, but at the same time, this is talking about Jesus coming as God and man, and being a part of his word, of what the Bible says. Now, all of that sounds very confusing. So, what I love is this next part because it says, "He was with God in the beginning". So, there is no separating is baby, Jesus, from God. He's always been with God. "Through him, all things were made. Without him, nothing was made, that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it". That's so powerful! You know, darkness, nothing that we face, no evil will overcome Jesus in our lives. So, the big questions are, "Okay, how do I understand this? How do I access Jesus in my life? He's God, he's big, and yet, he wants to be a part of me". So, it's overwhelming when you think about the ginormity of this whole concept of Immanuel. That's what everybody says at Christmas, God with us. Immanuel's a big thing.

Erin Cluley: I think that's why, one of the reasons I like the Christmas story so much, is because, when Jesus came to the earth that made him, he was human. So, he is the same as me. So,but he's Almighty God. So, he,and he's majestic. And I, when you picture God, I just picture like, you know, all the animals are worshipping him, and the rocks cry out to him. But he chose to come, through Jesus, to the earth, as a baby in a barn. He could have been born in the ritz-Carlton. Right?! That's a better way to do it.

Jai Williams: "For my birthday".

Ginger Stache: She's like, "That's probably the way I would have gone".

Erin Cluley: Well, he picked a barn. But to me that just shows how much he loves me, cuz he was willing to get on my level. Like, I'm just a human, who is sometimes, barely making it through the day. And the God of the universe came as a child so I could relate to him in some kind of way. Like, that's how I see it. It's just a way to connect.

Ginger Stache: So that we can't ever say, "He doesn't understand".

Erin Cluley: Exactly.

Ginger Stache: Because he walked this earth.

Jai Williams: Can I tell y'all something that I was, not embarrassed, but low-key embarrassed. I'm just gonna say it. I don't want to say I've been in a negative place, but... I'm not in the most like, cookie cutter, like, optimistic, "Jesus"! Place that I usually, or used to be, you know, because life has hit hard. And so, in that, people, you know, when you're going through tough times, tough situations, people always like to bring up job, and they like to bring up,

Erin Cluley: I'm sorry, I love him.

Jai Williams: I know you do.

Ginger Stache: Not me.

Jai Williams: And Joseph and his story. I was like, "These stories are jacked up. I don't like these stories". I don't like 'em. And then, people bring up Jesus, you know, "He went through, he suffered," and like, please don't stone me. But I was like, "Jesus chose". You used that word, that's what triggered it. Cuz, I was like, "Jesus chose to,he chose to come down, as a baby, in a barn, and all that, to save my life". Like, he chose,he knew, he knew that it was gonna happen. Like, he knew that the end was gonna be death. You know, and so, when I think of that, just my little negative, self at times, you know, I'm like, "I didn't choose any of this".

Ginger Stache: But you can look at it the other way around too, and say, "He chose it in spite of knowing how bad it was gonna be".

Jai Williams: True.

Ginger Stache: I mean, that...

Jai Williams: I mean, I've looked at it all the ways.

Ginger Stache: Oh, I'm sure you have.

Jai Williams: I'm just sayin'.

Ginger Stache: No, I get it. You have not chosen,yeah.

Jai Williams: You know, when you think of that. But then, when you think of the totality of the Christmas story, all of the people that still did not choose. You know, that's why it's important to read the entire piece, and not just be like, "Oh, well, he chose". Cuz, that's how, like, that's where I want to end, I want to put a period. "He chose it. He knew he was going," you know, like that's so silly. But you think of Mary who was just engaged to this dude, claiming she was a virgin, and then, all the sudden she's knocked-up. Like, she didn't choose that. Then, Joseph, he didn't chose to have the knocked-up girl, as soon his, you know...

Ginger Stache: Right, and he could have said, "Uh-uh. I'm out".

Jai Williams: You just think of all of the elements in there too, that were like, like, change happens. Like, life breeds change.

Ginger Stache: And it hurts along the way.

Jai Williams: And it's uncomfortable. And you have choices that you can make. Even though, Jesus chose to come, you have a choice to go with it with joy, or choose to stay with the person. You know, like you have all these choices. We have choices in it, but change does cause pivots, it causes you to have to, like, make some hard transitions and hard choices, you know, so, that was just a petty moment that I have that...

Ginger Stache: No, this is an excellent point. And I always think about when, before Jesus was on the cross, and he was asking his disciples to pray, and they couldn't stay awake, which that would have been me. You know, I would have been like... And,but he was in such pain and anguish because he knew what was coming, that he was like, sweating blood because he was so overwhelmed, I guess, by what was coming. And that's astounding. So, you're exactly right. You talk about, many things are out of our control. We can't choose so many things. But we can choose, no matter what the situation might be, to say, "I'm going to look at this Jesus, and see if there's anything good for me in this. And that's one of the things we really want to explain. So, we're gonna let Joyce talk a little bit about what it means, this whole relationship with Jesus thing. Let's get outside of all those words that we all hear, so often. And talk about what it really means, and try to get very, very real about it. So, let's see what Joyce has to say.

Joyce Meyer: And you know what, even if you've been born-again for 20 years, you still need to hear what I'm saying. Because, I'll tell you the truth, a lot of times, we forget how amazing, what we have, really is. You're the home of God. You've been justified in Christ. You know what that means? Made just as if you've never sinned. Wow! Purchased, bought with a preciousness, paid for with a price. You're not your own, but you belong to God. And it's not because of your works. It's not the fulfillment of the laws demands lest any man should boast. It is not the result of what anybody can possibly do. So no one can take glory, and pride himself. I just wanna ask you, this morning, if you're sure that you've been born-again. You say, "Well, Joyce, I go to church". You know what? I can go sit in my garage for a year, and it'll never make me a car. And just because you go sit in a church, you can go three times a week, that doesn't make you a Christian. And that's been a real fallacy, I think. I think, to be honest with you, and I hope nobody's offended by this, 'cause I know we've got lots of pastor's wives here. And I love the church, and I encourage people, all the time, to go to church. But I think we've made too much out of, "Do you go to church"? And not enough out of, "Do you know, Christ? Do you have a personal, intimate relationship with him"? Amen? And really, to be honest, if that's the case, if you know him, nobody's gonna have to try to make you go to church, you're gonna want to fellowship with other believers. You're gonna want to be in the family of God. You're gonna want to worship. You're gonna want to learn. So, when I say to somebody, "Are you a Christian"? They tell me they go to church, right away, I know we got a problem. So, don't think just because you go to church that, that means you're born-again. Do you have the life of God on the inside of you? Can you sense a life on the inside of you? Do you believe that if Jesus came in the next ten minutes that you would spend eternity with him? Forever and ever and ever. Isn't that comforting? I'm not afraid to die. I wouldn't care too much for the process, if it was very painful, but I'm not afraid to die because I know where I'm going. And I want you to have that same assurance.

Ginger Stache: Those are really good questions.

Erin Cluley: So good.

Ginger Stache: I mean, people who've been in the church for many, many years, whatever the situation is, these are great questions that gets down so much deeper than just, "How was your Christmas"? Because, maybe, it wasn't good, you know. Maybe, you're going through hard stuff, and you're not looking forward to the next few days that are coming up here. But let's talk about those things that are real and lasting in our life. And ask the questions that really matter. Where are we in this whole thing?

Erin Cluley: I've had a lot of conversations in the past year, with people who don't know the Lord, about this topic. And like you were saying, like, if you don't have nonChristian friends, then find some. I didn't for a long time. And so, having these conversations, someone said, "So, are you religious"? And I was like, "I mean, I just really love Jesus". But the way this person said this to me, was like, like they felt sad for me, if I was religious, or something. And I thought, "You don't,like there's so much life". It's not about being religious, there's life in Jesus, like she was saying. And just,people go to a place, because I think, Christians have created a bad rap for Jesus, which really is a bummer. That you are religious, or it's a bunch of laws, and rules, and regulations, when there is so much freedom in Christ. But I think some that's amissed.

Jai Williams: And I also, just hearing that, it's really real to me because so much of my identity was in church. Growing up, a pastor's kid, then ordained pastor, myself, and then married to a pastor, and just pastor, pastor, pastor.

Ginger Stache: So many pastors.

Jai Williams: Church, church, church... So, my identity was in that. Which is why this metamorphosis from like, the Abram to Abraham, you know. You know what I mean? Jacob to Israel type metamorphoses, I'm going through right now, is so hard and painful, like, because it's really like, I described it to a friend, today, even, it was like, what's going on in my heart and my mind it's almost like taking a sledgeHammer to like, concrete and breaking up the foundation of the religion, of religious practices, rules regulations, and things like that, that I was accustomed to. That was my foundation of Christianity. And it's all this, being like... Broken up. So, that something, and I feel, I'm walking in the phase where I'm feeling the warmth of like new submit, like, you know, being in the truth. Because I'm going through this phase of asking those real questions, and learning who Jesus is for real.

Ginger Stache: And that's so good. We have to ask those hard questions. I mean, I've been through some really hard times in my life that I thought I wasn't gonna rebuild that concrete. You know, because I wasn't sure it worked.

Jai Williams: Yeah, it feels like, "Was this a lie"? But you know, like, "Was I wrong"? You know, like, "God is with us," well, and these are the questions like, and I was literally, talking to a friend today, and I'm like, he wants,the more real your relationship is with him, you know, we were taught like, "Don't question God, don't," that's not tr, like, he wants us to talk to him. He wants us to have a relationship, and let this be a depiction of how a conversation with God could be. Like, where you're just really talking to someone. And I, literally, have asked him like, "If you're God with me, where were you? Like, where were you when this happened"? And I know, my friend, who lost her mom, "Where were you when she was dying"? Or people that are dealing with all kinds of things. So, many people have died, like, recently, that I know, that I'm like, "Where are you"? So, if God is with us, "Where are you"? So, like, those are the questions that I ask him. But, as I ask him that, I feel him drawing me closer to him. He's like, "That's all I've been wanting you to do is ask,cuz I know what's in your heart, ask me the questions and I'll show you. I'm with you. I've never leave you". Then, he'll start showing me pictures of like, him being there. Like, I remember when I had the question about my ex, like, "Why didn't you stop him from having an affair? Like, why would you let him"? And he gave me this vision, which it gives me chills, even now, of him like pulling his shirt. Like, and my ex was like going forward. And I saw, like, it looked like God, like, pulling his shirt. Like, he didn't want, "I was there," but we have free will. So, it's like, God is with us, he's not gonna force himself on us. And so, we have to ask those questions. We have to grow that relationship, in order for that to really come to fruition.

Erin Cluley: Why do you think Christians are like that? Like, why is that our go to, to become, to make it more about judgmental opinions and stuff? And so, we're not painting Jesus in the way that he should be. We should be showing them, "Ask the questions, ask the hard questions. He'll show you, he's there". But we have created this, like, barrier to have those conversations with people. Is it fear or...?

Ginger Stache: So much of it is about guilt. We feel guilty, if we feel these things, if we think these things, "I shouldn't even be thinking that way," you know, "I should just trust God and be a good Christian". And you can be a good Christian by asking God hard questions. Because just like you said, when I've been there, and I really felt like, I don't know about this, and I love the way you put it, "I could feel God drawing me, even in my anger, even in my resentment, and saying, 'bring it. I love you. I still love you. I don't,'" you know, I would say, "You're not going to like hearing this, and he would say, "I do want to hear it," you know, "And I will still love you through it". And when you have that kind of love, that is what builds an even stronger foundation than I ever had before.

Jai Williams: And that's what gives me hope, even about, like, if you have any, if people have teenagers, like, I'm with my teenager, right now, and yes, I adored the age, like, where Peyton is. Like, I remember that. And I was also, kind of like, wanting her to grow up a little bit, cuz I'm like, "I can't wait for us to like, talk about boys, and makeup, and things like that". And now, well, okay. So, right now, we're in that phase where, you know, mom and daughter kind of clash, you know, because she's becoming a woman. We've had a lot of life transition happen, you know. And so, she isn't talking much to me. And so, I'm like, "Man, if God feels like this, when we don't talk to him, I don't want to make him feel, how I feel, when I don't talk to my girl. I hate it. And all I want is for her to ask me the real questions. Ask me, like, if you're mad...

Ginger Stache: Give me the chance.

Jai Williams: Give me a chance. Like, if you're mad at me because of something, talk to me. If you're hurt because of something, talk to me. Now, I might not, I might be able to say, like, "Hey, it's just what it is. Like, I'm your mom and this is what," but that,I'm like, if that's the relationship that God wants from us, where,like, that's why.

Erin Cluley: That's a great example.

Jai Williams: That's the depiction that we should be giving to people, a loving father, a loving parent.

Ginger Stache: Not the guilt.

Jai Williams: Not the guilt. I grew up thinking God was like the wizard of oz. We talk about, reverence, you know. And I adore him, and reverence him, but I was like, scared of him.

Ginger Stache: I have a really, really strange, I probably should not share this story.

Jai Williams: Please do, I've already shared enough. Like, share your stuff, come on!

Ginger Stache: A strange example of the way I look at God, and everybody else is gonna go, "What?"!

Jai Williams: Oh, please.

Ginger Stache: But anyway. So, life is hard. And we deal with a lot of stuff in life that we don't wanna touch, cuz it's messy, right? So, you know, I'm gonna, I'm going to use some words that I probably shouldn't use, but we deal with a lot of crap in life.

Erin Cluley: Oh!

Ginger Stache: I say that because, here's an example. Our two-year-old granddaughter, Elsie's potty training.

Jai Williams: Little crap, okay, got it.

Ginger Stache: And that's why the crap. So, she's potty training. And she's so encouraging, though. She's just a very encouraging child. And so, she's potty training, and I'm helping her, and kind of wiping her, you know, cleaning her up after, and she goes, "Good job, wiping my butt, gigi".

Jai Williams: That's right Elsie.

Ginger Stache: "Well, thank you"! I feel so much better about what I just did, now. Before, it was like, "Ew". And, you know, but I kind of see that the way that it is in life. We have a lot of stuff that we have to deal with, that we don't want to have to do, but I feel like, God is right there, saying, "Good job dealing with the stuff that you have to deal with. I am not gonna leave you. I'm gonna be right here with you. I'm gonna encourage you through it. But it's not gonna go away". And so, I think that's really important. I don't want to go through this stuff by myself. I need all the help I can get. I'm not expecting it to all be sunshine, and roses, and rainbows. And so, you know, when we are dealing with the messes of life, that we have to clean up, I want God to be there, you know. I wanna hear, "Good job cleaning up that crap, gigi," you know? I mean, she did not use that word. She's said, "Clean," you know, "Wiping my butt". But anyway, I think that's really important is that God is in the trenches with us. He's dealing with the mess with us.

Erin Cluley: I think that's some of the most beautiful times I've ever had with him are in the trenches. Because it's having those conversations, I just remember so many times crying on my bed, "Where are you"? Just like you said. "Why have you left me? Why are we doing this again"? And he always is there. He always meet you there. And I think that sounds, like if you're not used to this, and this is not conversations you normally have, it sounds kind of like, "Well, that's so good for you, and I'm so glad you heard from him, but that's not gonna happen for me". But it will because if you come to him, he's waiting for you, there. So, you can have that same kind of experience with him.

Jai Williams: Yeah, and even when you say that, like, I just can remember, and not even just remember, I have it, often, where, I don't always feel like he's there. Even when I ask him. You know, and so, for those, cuz, I know that was something too, that I was like, "Why aren't you, where are you"? Because I didn't tangibly feel him. And that, I think, that'll help people too. Is to be able, even if it still feels like, he's not there, you have to, you have a choice to believe that he is there. And for me, I took a lot of this time where I didn't choose to believe like, you know, I was like, "I believe in God, but I don't know if he's in this situation. Like, I'm talking through it. I'm trying to pray through it. I'm trying to still do things through, but it doesn't feel like it". And so, there was a moment, like there where I was like, "Maybe, he's not here". And I just want people to know like, that is not a fun place to be. It's hopeless. Like I'd rather believe, until I truly believe, I'd rather choose to believe, until I truly believe, and know that he's there, even when I don't feel it, than to like, choose to not believe and just be hopeless. Like, it's just, it's like a dark hole, and that's where depression comes from. Like, that's, cuz, I can feel myself spiraling. Cuz it's like, "Well, nobody cares, and nobody this, and..." You know, like, and it's not just being funny,it's really, like, it just,it's a hopeless place to be. So, it's better to choose to believe even if you don't feel it.

Ginger Stache: Yeah, if you're out flailing in an ocean and somebody throws you a rope, you're gonna grab it. Even if you don't know, if they're gonna be able to pull you in, if anybody's at the end of that rope. But if someone throws you an opportunity for hope, grab it. Why would you just let it float by and think, "No, it's not gonna do any good"? No! You're desperate. And if you're in a desperate situation, you're gonna grab for it. So, let's again, get past all the Christianese and really explain how this whole thing works. People talk about being born-again. And that's a real term. And it's something that we need to understand. So, Joyce is gonna explain more about this whole Christian life.

Joyce Meyer: What does it mean to be born-again? Well, it doesn't mean that you sign up to go to a church somewhere, and that you try to have behavior improvement. That's not what it means, to be born-again. Now, I want you to get a hold of this. When you're born-again, God comes to live inside of you. Born-again, God comes to live in your spirit, and you are made alive in Christ. You become the home of God. Is that not exciting? If you're saved, say, "God lives in me". Whoo! I love that. That's enough to get you excited every day. You don't have to do anything special to receive Christ. He's already done everything that needs to be done. All you need to do is just, "Phew," surrender. Now, I'm not asking you just to receive Christ. I'm asking you also, to surrender yourself to him. And there may even be many people here, today, that you feel like you have received Christ, but truth is, you've never really, given yourself to him. You know, this is not an invitation just to receive Jesus to kinda fix all of our problems. This is an invitation to change your mind to repent, and to be willing to go in a totally different direction, by the grace of God. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the father, but by me". Ephesians 2:8 and 9. There's power in the word, so, let me read this to you. "For it is by free grace, God's unmerited favor, that you are saved, delivered from judgment, and made a partaker of Christ's salvation". And it comes through your faith. So, the only thing that you need to do, today, is just say, "I believe. I believe that Jesus died for me". I don't know how we can believe that, because we didn't see it, we weren't there when it happened, but it's amazing what happens when you have faith in your heart. You have faith to believe things that, maybe, to your mind, don't even make any sense. I don't know how I know, I wasn't there, but I know, that I know, that I know, that I know, that I know, that Jesus died for me. I know that. It's a settled fact in my life. Jesus died for me. "It's not of yourselves. It's not of your own doing. It came not through your own striving, but it is the gift of God". So, this morning, you are being offered the most amazing gift in the whole world.

Ginger Stache: So, there it is. You talk about Christmas, you talk about the real Christmas, it's this gift that is so different than anything else that we could really fully even understand. Tell me, go ahead.

Erin Cluley: I was just gonna say Caden is almost seven. And so, we've had all these conversations about Jesus and, but now, like, it's time to have like, the conversation. And I don't know if it's how it's going to work, but it's something we talk about all the time. But I was thinking, "How do I make sure he says all the right words, and in the right order, to make sure he gets Jesus in his heart, the right way, so that way, he's, you know, like, in there really good and doesn't fall out".

Ginger Stache: You want it to stick.

Erin Cluley: Yeah, I wanna get him in all the nooks and crannies so I know where he's going to go. And so, as I'm having these thoughts it just kind of,probably God spoke to my heart and said, "Erin, like, you just have a conversation with him, and I'll be right there, and the words don't have to be perfect. And it doesn't have to be an eloquent speech that your seven-year-old says. But what is his heart? And does he get the point"? You know, so it kind of flipped my perspective too, like as an adult. "Do I make it about sounding, right? And saying, all the right words"? Or is it about, "God, I believe you, I need you, forgive me, help me". And not,not make it so big.

Jai Williams: No, yeah, cuz that's totally, that was totally my thing, being in church. I would stand on the stages and have to do the salvation prayer, like, where people, "Repeat after me". "Dear Jesus," you know, you go to the whole thing. But then, I would have almost panic attacks when I would go to, like, regular people, like, at the grocery store or at the gas station. And,wouldn't even dare offer Jesus, or offer a salvation prayer because I was so worried about saying the right thing. But to a point where I just prayed and asked God, like, years ago, I was like, "God, just take all the Christianese out of my mouth". Like, I don't, to the point, where I almost sound like I don't have good sense, honestly. Because, sometimes, I'm praying, like, "God, you know my heart". Like, you know, it's like, "I need help". You know, seriously, like, but those are,he wants the real prayers and the gen, cuz that's when true, like, redemption happens. That's when, you go from your old self, and be born into a new self, and into that freedom. And I wish we, and I'm glad we're talking about it. Just how freeing salvation is. It's not this like, rule driven, like...

Ginger Stache: That's really a key point.

Jai Williams: Yeah, it's just this so much, yeah, we do get to learn about the things that he expects of us. But the beauty is that Jesus came to redeem us. Like, there is no more need for a blood sacrifice. He was the blood sacrifice. And when, God sees us, he sees his son. Like, once you accep," you believe in the Lord, Jesus Christ, you shall be saved". That's what it says in acts. Like, "Once you believe in the Lord, Jesus Christ, you shall be saved". He sees his son when he sees you. And it's so freeing to know. Like, in my stressful times when I'm having these moments of like, unbelief, or, you know, or like, warring with the things that are going on in life, or a bad diagnosis, or a job loss, or whatever, like, and you're having those negative moments, like, the good thing is to know, once you're born in Christ, he sees his son. Like, that's the gratitude I have with Jesus, cuz he covers me, even when I'm jacked up.

Ginger Stache: Yeah. I mean, it's so different when we flip it a little bit and don't look at it, like, "I have to do this, and God is going to be, you know, giving me all these rules and regulations that I need to follow". And instead, we flip it and say, "God is showing me a new way of living that will make my life so much better". So, it's not about following rules. It's about someone loving you so much that they're helping you to have what he wants you to have, to have this life that will not be perfect, that will surprise us, at times, and hurt us, at times. But he has done something astounding and giving us a way, like you said, to have a direct connection with the perfect, living God. Cuz otherwise, it's, "Okay, I'm gonna go out and I'm gonna find a goat and slaughter it," you know?

Jai Williams: No.

Erin Cluley: I'm not made for that kind of life.

Ginger Stache: Exactly, that's how it was.

Jai Williams: The Old Testament, I'm so glad that I'm not there.

Ginger Stache: And I could never kill a little animal. That would be so...

Jai Williams: No!

Ginger Stache: But anyway, that's, you know. She was talking about Ephesians chapter 2, and it's just a great place, if you dig into the Bible. Go there, read what Joyce was just talking about. But continuing on, for what she was saying, in verse 10, it says, "For we are God's handiwork created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance, for us to do". So, this is so much more about what God has for us, too. That's the miracle in it. That he handmade us in a specific way, and he has good things for us, and things for us to do, which means purpose in our life. Which, how much do we all need that so desperately? But we often look at it, like, "If I become a Christian, I might lose some friends," which is true. And, you know, "If I become a Christian, I'm not going to be able to do some of the stuff I like to do," which is true. But it's a big trade off. And sometimes, I think about it, like, when you have a wound and you're bleeding and you have to get it cauterized, you know, you have to stop that bleeding. Sometimes, we get so used to be wounded,that we're so used to being wounded that we don't feel the pain anymore, but we're still bleeding, and we have to do something to stop that bleeding. And that's what Jesus did for us, essentially. He came in, and he said, "I'm gonna stop that bleeding for you". And it's overwhelming when you think about the power behind all of it.

Erin Cluley: This past year, I've really studied all of the different rules, that we feel that there are. And like...

Ginger Stache: You read Leviticus.

Erin Cluley: No, I haven't gotten there yet. I'm not quite ready for that one yet.

Jai Williams: That's a lot of rules.

Erin Cluley: Just asking God, like, "Why do we feel like it's all rules? Cuz you're not a cruel, God, who just wants to dictate our lives". And so, just spending a lot of time studying on this topic. And what I came to realize,at least this is what I felt, I thought. It's not so much that he's giving you this list of rules because this is how you're going to get into the Kingdom of God, and you check these boxes. What he showed me was, I, him saying to me, "I love you so much. This is my very best for you. This is how you're gonna live a life of freedom, and experience the true fullness of your life, in me, is by making these choices. It's not because you're very wrong, and a terrible person if you do these things, and I won't love you. It's not that at all. But I love you so much. This my very best for you. So, let me show you how to live the very best I have for you". And just that flip of perspective, made such a difference for me. Because it's not God demanding of us. It's God, loving us so much that he came to heal us. He came to go to the places that hurt and heal my wounded soul. He came to comfort me when I'm alone. And it's not because he's mean, he's the opposite.

Jai Williams: Yeah, that's the thing. Like, when you think about the rules, don't think of them as restrictions. He's literally, trying to give us the keys to live at fullness life. I know, if I ever told a lie before, that's stressful. Like, you know, to try and keep up with a lie.

Ginger Stache: That's a lot of work.

Jai Williams: Like, "What did I tell her, and him"? Stressful, so, don't lie. If you don't lie, then you don't have that stress. So, it's like, it's not really a restriction. It's more of an enrichment. It's like, these are things to say like, "Hey, these things,if you do, I still love you, no matter what, but if you want to live the fullest life," like, life and that more abundantly, you'll wanna do things that make him happy. Like, when I love someone I wanna do things that make them happy. I don't wanna make them upset. So, I just want us to really walk away from here, like to be able to share the good news of the gospel, to share the good news of Jesus being born, even in a tough time, to say, like, "There is hope, there's joy, there's freedom, if you,if you just say yes, if you accept him into your heart. And so, it's a beautiful thing. It's a beautiful thing to know, like, but that's not how we were taught. Like, I wasn't taught that. I was taught,rule, rule, rule, rule, rule, and I watched the movie, "Left behind," and I was terrified.

Erin Cluley: That's your childhood.

Ginger Stache: A pile of clothes laying there, and everybody's gone.

Jai Williams: Every time, I saw laundry down, "Ahh"!

Ginger Stache: "Oh, no! They're gone"!

Jai Williams: Like, "Mama, you here? Did Jesus come back"? I was terrified as a kid. Hated laundry day.

Ginger Stache: That's so funny.

Jai Williams: Thinking my mom, gone in the rapture.

Ginger Stache: I remember so many times coming out, like, in my bedroom, at home, and the house being quiet and not being able to find anyone, "It's happened. It's happened, I've been left behind".

Jai Williams: Those were, I mean, thanks to that, I stayed saved a long, long time. But as I mature and get older, I realize that, what the relationship with Jesus really is. It's not scare, but there's truth to that. He is coming back to get us. It's not,it's not, it's not fake.

Ginger Stache: Oh, yeah. But we don't have to have that fear when we see a pile of clothes.

Jai Williams: But that goes back to what Joyce was saying, do, are you really,do you believe you've been born again? Like, do you really believe?

Ginger Stache: Can you answer the question?

Jai Williams: Can you answer the question? Because if you can answer the question, you don't have to think about that. Cuz, guess what? You will be,those will be your clothes in a pile. Like, you won't have to worry about being left behind, you know.

Ginger Stache: And I know too, there a lot of people with Christmas coming, or maybe, you're listening past Christmas, but you still feel like you're in that rough seas, and you're about to go under, and think of this as that life vest floating by, you know. Are you going to reach out and grab it? Are you gonna reach out for that little bit of hope that can make a difference for you? So, we're gonna give you the opportunity. And that is our prayer, today. That you can experience some of the stuff that we've been talking about, that even in the hardest times, when all of us, probably, have asked the big questions and have really tested out this whole Christianity walk, and yet, we're back here, still doing it because we know that it makes a difference, and it's real in our lives, and we know that it can be real in your life, too. So, whether you need to come back to the Lord, or you just need to be refreshed on this, listen to what Joyce has to say, kind of walking you through how all of this works and giving you the opportunity to grab on to that rope.

Joyce Meyer: So, if you're here today, and you say, "Joyce, I've never surrendered my life to Christ. I want to be a Christian. I want to spend the rest of my life serving God. I want my sins to be forgiven. I wanna have that intimate fellowship with God," then I wanna pray with you this morning. Or if you say, "Joyce, I've backslidden. I wanna make a fresh start". I wanna pray with you, this morning. Or if you say, "Joyce, I'm just, I mean, I'm just religious. You nailed us this weekend, just religious. And I really wanna make a full-on commitment and be on fire for God. I truly want him to take over my life. I want to be born again," then I want you to just slip your hand up, and let me see where you're at. Come on. I want you all to pray this prayer with me. Father, God, I love you. Jesus, I believe in you. I believe you died in my place. You took my punishment. You paid for my sins. You rose from the dead. And you're alive right now. Come and live in me. Wash me, clean. Forgive me. Take my life. I give myself to you. I receive you. Take me just the way I am. Now, make me what you want me to be. I surrender. I'm yours. And you're mine. I'm on my way to heaven. And I'm gonna enjoy the journey. Amen, c'mon. Give God a big praise.

Ginger Stache: Well, if you just prayed that prayer, then we have some more things that we want to give you because it's so important that you can really understand what's happening in your life. It's a miracle. It's a beautiful thing. So, we wanna help. If you go to, we have a free download of a booklet called, "A new way of living". And it's got great information right from the Bible, but it's simple, and it will help you really understand this. And also, when you're there you can find out more about the podcast. Listen to some past episodes. But we wish you a merry, merry Christmas. We're so glad...

Jai Williams: "We wish you a merry Christmas".

Ginger Stache: Go ahead sing it for us, Jai.

Jai Williams: That's it. That's all they get.

Ginger Stache: Well, that was something.

Jai Williams: Oh, you all want me to do some for them?

Erin Cluley: No, that's ok.

Jai Williams: I'm like, you got quiet.

Ginger Stache: What's happening? No, we're so glad that you were with us. We're so glad that you've been with us through this past year, that you're one of our friends, and that we can share, so honestly, like this, that we can just talk the real stuff, and not the Christianese stuff, and that we can even use the word crap, now and then.

Jai Williams: Cheers, hot chocolate?

Ginger Stache: Thank you. Oh, yeah, mines over there. Dink!

Erin Cluley: Yay!

Ginger Stache: We'll see you all next time.

Erin Cluley: Bye.
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