The holidays have ended and it is time to once again leave behind the fun and fellowship so unique to this wonderful time of year. I confess that for me this is hard. I love the Christmas season and everything about it; the weather, the carols, the gatherings with family and friends; it is simply my favorite time of year. There is something wonderfully nostalgic about Christmas (at least for me) that produces a wonderful mixture of feelings rich in joy, hope and comfort. Christmas offers a time of intimacy and fellowship with family and neighbor that restores my soul in so many ways but sadly it is a time which passes quickly and so I find myself once again in the pull of everyday life with all of its pressures and challenges.

For those who have been called by His grace; it is indeed a time of rest and respite from a world that "groans" under the weight of sin and suffering. However, as much as I may want to remain within this psychological and spiritual refuge I cannot nor can any of us.

While the temptation may be to remain in permanent retreat or seclude ourselves from the world; we simply cannot if we love Christ. It is into this fallen world with its warring forces that we must return as soldiers in the Lord's army.

Jeremiah warned the Israelites that the prophets and priests were falsely proclaiming that "all is well" saying, "They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. 'Peace, peace,' they say, when there is no peace." (Jeremiah 6:14)

As we begin this new year it is time to put these days of celebration behind us and once again return to the pressing issues of our day. While we may be tempted to convince ourselves that "all is well," the fact is we are living in a world at war. There simply is no real peace, apart from Christ, in a world plagued by sin and suffering - a world where people live in wanton rebellion against the King of Kings.

It is this reality that we must now return to because the "wound" apparent in the American Church is indeed serious and our natures are such that we tend to minimize the spiritual complacency present in our own lives and among God's people. We say to ourselves, "peace, peace" as if all is well with the world because the reality makes us too uncomfortable; such a view of reality inevitably demands more of us than we are often prepared to give. If we are honest, we more often than not just want to get along with our lives rather than throw ourselves unreservedly into the cause of Christ. We assume that such selfless devotion will erase all comfort in our lives never realizing that this is where joy unspeakable and real freedom is ultimately to be found.

I confess that this too is a temptation for me as well because the alternative is at times too overwhelming and who wants to live under such a burden? But, I am reminded that our Savior bore the ultimate burden and because He did we have been set free from the sin that "so easily entangles us." We no longer live in subjection to the fallen world but instead are called to live in submission to the loving King who has overcome the world. We are His and He is ours and through Him we are more than conquerors called by Him to press His truth into every aspect of life and culture so that He may be glorified and repentant men and women raised to new life in Christ! This is the task to which we must return as we begin a new year.

Jeremiah's challenge to the Israelites then is appropriate to our day. "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls."

The degree of biblical ignorance, theological confusion, and spiritual apathy plaguing the American Church is appalling and the result is nothing less than the marginalization of the Gospel and lack of redemptive influence. The witness of Christ come into the world is impoverished and the world is edified in their rejection of the risen Lord. In the wake of such weakness on the part of the Church, anti-Christian sentiment is on the rise and in some cases outright hostility. Writing in the Telegraph, British columnist, Jeff Randall - who describes himself as "somewhere between an agnostic and a mild believer" - writes, "In an increasingly godless age, there is a rising tide of hatred against those who adhere to biblical values."