Cases in point:

All this comes on the heels of a national survey indicating just over a tenth of Americans today believe Jesus Christ of Nazareth is the focus of Christmas, with almost nine out of ten people saying the holiday has become less religious.

Sign of the Times

"The real reason for the season is winter solstice," proclaims Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-founder of the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation which re-erected its atheistic message Monday in the rotunda of the state seat of government.

After six years on display, her placard had been damaged last December by an unknown assailant, and has since been repaired.

The front of the sign states: "At this season of the winter solstice may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."

The back reads: "State/Church: Keep them separate," and carries a little caveat, advising "Thou shalt not steal."

The 23-by-30-inch billboard was OK'd as part of Wisconsin's seasonal display which also features menorahs, angels, and what appears to be a giant Christmas tree more than two stories tall.

"We call it a 'holiday' tree," said Brian Hayes, deputy secretary for Wisconsin's department of administration. "We're trying to be sensitive to [the public]."

That politically correct terminology comes despite the dismissal of a lawsuit last year where the message content of items adorning the state tree had been challenged, yet it's indicative of the thought-conscious age of the 21st century.

Here is the cause of our vexation with the popular culture. If an activity promotes Jesus, then it’s the “promoting of religion. . .

If, however, an activity promotes ANYTHING ELSE, then its “diversity. . .”

This is Christmas Frustration, up close and personal. We have a society that is relativistic and touts itself as being inclusive. But we follow Jesus who said, “I am the way. . .” He didn’t say, “I am A WAY,” but, “I AM THE WAY.” We who follow Him walk in frustration, not with Him, but with the sick world around us.

My sermon explores this seasonal time that is becoming more and more frustrating for all of us who follow Jesus.


Sheepfold Ministries, December 9, 2007

Pastor Phil Roland



Romans 8:19-25 – 2 Corinthians 4:6-10

“There are many frustrations and distractions at Christmas. Work at keeping Christ-awareness at the spiritual core of your heart.”                       Pastor Phil Roland


“For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.”  Romans 8:25



          A. Getting into the “Christmas Spirit”

1. Finding the Christmas decorations

2. Writing the Annual Christmas Letter

3. Buying Gifts

4. Baking, cooking, preparations

5. Putting up outside Lighting

            B. Pressures from our Godless, materialistic culture

                        1. Feel Bad? Just buy something!

                        2. Get all you CAN – CAN what you get – Sit on the CAN



          A. Frustration is basically “Simmered Hostility”

                        1. Happens when your “Activity Cup” overflows

                        2. Easy to displace hostility to those closest

                        3. Lashing Out – “You only hurt the ones you love”

            B. Frustration is a basic part of Christian humanity

                        1. Life always produces frustrations

                        2. YOU choose how to deal with life’s paradoxes


            A. The Cosmos (World System) is in a Mess
                    1. Global Warming – “Henny Penny Doomsayers”
                    2. Text predicts environmental tension
               B. Humanity’s in a Mess
                    1. We long for true “Peace on the Earth”
                    2. We eat in darkness, frustration, affliction and anger – Eccl. 5:17
                     “When he begets a son, there is nothing in his hand. As he came from his
                      mother's womb, naked shall he return, To go as he came; And he shall 
                      take nothing from his labor Which he may carry away in his hand. And this 
                      also is a severe evil; Just exactly as he came, so shall he go. And what 
                      profit has he who has labored for the wind? All his days he also eats in 
                     darkness, And he has much sorrow and sickness and anger.”
               C. Each of us deal with our own frustrations
                    1. The person in the mirror also has a problem
                    2. Life has its limits – You can’t have it all!            
                               a. We groan because we are incomplete at best – Rom. 8:23 
                               b. At worst, we are sinners
               A. Frustration with incompleteness of other believers
                    1. Disappointments when Christians sin, fail, betray us/Jesus
                    2. Frustration of limits of Christian fellowship.
               a. Problems in early church
                               b. Grumbling.
                               c. Divisiveness and personality cults
                               c. Spiritual deadness, even hostility
               B. Frustrations with ourselves
                    1. Most Christians have obvious flaws
                    2. Most of us wear a “mask”
                    3. We want to change, but don't
                   4. We want to feel God's power, but He feels distant
               C. Frustrations with God Himself
                    1. Hard questions - Bizarre things in Bible
                   2. Pain / suffering in world, especially of innocents
                     3. Mysteries of prayer, God's will
                    4. We want Him to speak to us, to guide us
                     5. If He did, would we recognize it, or say it is just us?
               A. Own your Inadequacy - Realize you cannot have all the answers 
                    1. Mary “pondered things in her heart” – Luke 2:19 
                    2.  Some things have to be left with God
               B. Deal immediately with roots of bitterness and stress
                    1. Victim-thinking permeates our society, including the church
                    2. The trouble with bitterness is that it does not stay the same  
                   3. Bitterness distorts reality, keeping us chained to the past
               C. Steps to becoming Better rather than Bitter
                    1. Acknowledge the problem - Stop feeding bitterness
                    2. Rid yourself of every root of bitterness as soon as possible
                    3. Initiate reconciliation - Proclaim God is sovereign
               C. Count your blessings
               D. Find True Contentment – Quiet, Christ-Centered Family Christmas
               E. Find what is lacking in your life - 
                   1. Sin leads to Futility – 1 Peter 1:18; 2 Peter 2:18
                    2. Find Godly contentment – Psalm 146:9
                    3. Wisdom w/o God always leads to frustration – 1 Cor. 1:19
               F. Quietness can drive away Frustration
                    1. Learn to find the place of God’s Rest – Hebrews 4
                    2. Follow the example of Spiritual People


Romans 8:19-25
For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.
20  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;
21  because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the 
glorious liberty of the children of God.
22  For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.
23  Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves 
groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
24  For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one 
still hope for what he sees?
25  But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
2 Corinthians 4:6-10
For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our 
hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be 
of God and not of us.
8  We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
9  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
10  always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus 
also may be manifested in our body.
(To be used under the point, “Count your blessings.”)
             Once upon a time, there was a man who lived with his wife,
                two small children, and his elderly parents in a tiny hut.
             He tried to be patient and gracious, but the noise and
                crowded conditions wore him down.
             In desperation, he consulted the village wise man.
             "Do you have a rooster?" asked the wise man.
                "Yes," he replied.
             "Keep the rooster in the hut with your family, and come see
                me again next week."
             The next week, the man returned and told the wise elder that
                living conditions were worse than ever, with the rooster
                   crowing and making a mess of the hut.
             "Do you have a cow?" asked the wise elder.
                The man nodded fearfully.
             "Take your cow into the hut as well, and come see me in a
             Over the next several weeks, the man -- on the advice of the
                wise elder -- made room for a goat, two dogs, and his
                   brother's children.
             Finally, he could take no more, and in a fit of anger, kicked
                out all the animals and guests, leaving only his wife,
                   his children, and his parents.
             The home suddenly became spacious and quiet, and 
               Everyone lived happily ever after.
 Frustration Assessment
The following quiz by Tim Sanford can help you examine your personal
     level of frustration (or positively, your contentment).
T  F   I struggle frequently with envy or jealousy toward others.
T  F   I'm satisfied with my marriage and family.
T  F   I like the way my standard of living compares with my friends'.
T  F   I often feel like something is missing from my life.
T  F   Most of my dreams and goals for my life have been fulfilled.
T  F   I feel good about my job.
T  F   My paycheck is sufficient to meet my needs and most of my wants.
T  F   I often struggle with disappointment about how my life has turned
T  F   Most of the time I feel inferior to other people.
T  F   My present life is pretty much in line with my expectations.
T  F   I'm easily irritated when things don't go my way.
Personal questions:
1. What kinds of people and circumstances are most likely to affect your
     sense of contentment? How?
2. When you allow discontent to rule you, what are you saying about your
     perception of God?
3. What alternatives to discontent do you find in the following verses?
     Psalm 100:4-5 and Psalm 131:1-3