Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘christmas’

7 Ways to a Better Break

In Christmas, Family on December 27, 2014 at 11:23 am

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High Expectations.

I come into Christmas break with high expectations each year.  Here is a time of love, laughter, presents, food, family, and fighting.  I wanted to say fun, I really did.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love Christmas break, but sometimes the bickering drives me insane.  The problem of having two high functioning alpha dogs as kids is that nature only allows one alpha dog in the pack…and that’s me!  It is rather fascinating to watch the downward spiral as sugar and time take effect.  I expect family to get along and learn to discuss, even debate, but keep a civil tone.  Unfortunately that does not always happen.

How do we learn to get along with family that might drive us nuts?  Here are a few tips to make it through week two of Christmas break.

1.  Sleep more.  In pragmatic terms, this keeps distance and reduces time.  The more sleep over night and later into the morning reduces the amount of opportunity to fight.  Also, it gives our bodies a chance to recuperate from the day.  Family time is needed in all of our lives, but we live so independent that coming together can wear us out.  Sleep allows your body to reset itself.  Instead of pulling all-nighters playing games, watching movies, etc, sleep more.

2.  Eat Better.  The high sugar content of this season gets us out of whack.  We run to family and eat quick on the way.  We run to the after Christmas sales and eat on the go.  Most of us sit down and eat one good meal with family and call it Christmas dinner.  That night is usually the best because we all ate properly.  Take time to eat fruit more than fruitcake and eggs more than egg nog.

3.  Listen first. If we would listen to the other person first before reacting it would help.  Learning to listen is a part of maturity, but is also a hard lesson to learn.  Listening takes strength and courage.  Lashing out with words is the easy reaction that anyone can do.  Withholding words and setting your mind to hear and listen to others takes energy.  If we do not someone will kill someone else before the week is out, or everyone runs screaming to their rooms and slams doors.  Where is the “peace on earth” in those moments?

4.  Think of others.  This one is risky because the other may not think of you.  When deciding on pretty much anything, stop and consider what the other person might want to do, play, eat, or buy.  When doing this you are taking the high road.  Thinking of others before yourself is selfless and sacrificial.  Now, you cannot play the martyr here and beg for your wishes later.  Thinking of others is civilized and we are, right?

5.  Take turns. Who picked last time?  OK, then someone else picks this time.  Sounds easy, right?  Not so fast!  However, if you instill this from the beginning it makes life easier down the road.  Taking turns is critical to lasting through the breaks.  We made a sign one year that had the names of our two one on each side.  After they chose a game, the card was flipped over.  Next time, even a day later it was easy to see whose turn it was and this reduced the number of fights about the next game to play.

6.  Read and Rest.  This is not sleep time.  This is a time when everyone takes a break and does something on their own in their own space.  We encourage reading.  The days have long passed since naps would be taken, except for one of us who is unnamed!  The rest take some downtime and read.  This does not have to be all day, but an hour or 2 in the afternoon will help ease the transitions.  Each can have the pleasure of doing their own thing, which will allow for the ability to think of others more later.

7.  Remember what  is important.  What will be remembered 20 years from now?  30 years?  Family.  The important part of these breaks is family.  Family outweighs the presents, choices, fights, and more.  Family spending time together is difficult and will be what is remembered later.  Those funny moments.  As you guide yours through this break remember what is important.  God and family.  Raise these up and let them shine for all to see.

We each enter the breaks with high expectations.  We want that perfect family picture; that greatest gift/game; that fightless week.  These rarely happen and, in our mind, the day/break is shot.  When we come into these breaks with “movie level” expectations we are setting ourselves up for failure.  Lower them to a realistic level and watch your joy increase.  Nobody is perfect.  No present will wash away all of the pain.  No time will fix everything.  Yet, we can come to these moments and walk away with joy in our soul if we just be real with the time and people involved.

Have a great second week!!!

James 4:1-3 NLT

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

4 Choices That Put You on the Naughty List

In Life and Culture on December 18, 2014 at 3:46 pm

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With just a few days left until Christmas, I will soon find myself in a pile of wrapping paper, tape, boxes, and bags.  Do you find it hard to keep Jesus the main thing at Christmas?  I think we all struggle.  December has become the busiest time of year: purchases, packages, office parties, school functions, kids/grandkids, family responsibilities, and travel plans.  If you tack on any colds or flu then Christmas can be a headache!  As you finish up your shopping and begin to hit the road, consider these 4 naughty list items to avoid this year and 1 nice choice.

Naughty Choice #1 – We make it external.

Never has there been as much behavioral change as there is from Black Friday on!  We all want to keep the floodgates open.  However, when it come to the heart behind the season, let us not forget that important emotion – Love.  Love is the reason we celebrate.  Love is the reason we can act this way.  Let this season mean something.  Let the gift exchanges mean something to you.  Let Christmas soften your heart. The Pharisees were well-known for their outward appearance but inward stain.

Naughty Choice #2 – We make it professional.

I often remind my kids that Christmas is not only about the money they will get from different people in their lives.  While that may be a reality, it becomes more than sport at times!  Those in retail have to face you people each day.  As a result, it becomes easy to be jaded.  Others will give so they will receive.  When we make Christmas more about the quality of the LOOK of the gift we walk dangerously close to this naughty line.  Christmas is not business.  Christmas is the heart of God spilling out into the world through the coos of a baby boy.  Christmas is not just a time to make double wages.  Christmas is family and love.  The Scribes missed Jesus because they were too busy working and making money.

Naughty Choice #3 – We make it secular.

I am calling for a bit of moderation from ends of this spectrum.  While some would ban Santa and claim him to be Satan (Just rearrange the letters), others embrace him in idolatry.  I answered this here.  I mention this only that Christmas has become big business and we can get caught up in the Griswold phenomenon that is lights, trees, and a show.  We make it all about us and the entertainment of it all.  We love the magic, lights, and joy but forget the real issues.  The Sadducees were all about the culture.  They missed Jesus because He wasn’t “cultural” enough.

Naughty Choice # 4 – We make it political.

Like baseball, Christmas is a national pastime.  We have our traditions, right or wrong.  My family makes cookies on Christmas Eve, plays games, and watches Polar Express.  We have done this since the movie premiered.  This will make our 10th year.  You have your own traditions that you cling to dearly.  Our traditions are coming under fire.  Every year we see fights and litigation about using Christmas in phrases.  If my saying Merry Christmas offends you, too bad.  The ENTIRE point of this holiday is to celebrate Christ!  However, if believers would put Christ back into their Christianity we wouldn’t have this mess.  The Essenes missed Jesus because they were too caught up in the political minutia to see Him.

Nice Choice – Make it relational.

Born out of a desire to have a relationship with humanity, Jesus was conceived in Mary by the Holy Spirit.  God and humanity are separated by sin and those naughty choices.  But in His love for you, He gave His only Son to fulfill the requirements of the law once for all.  God did that for you.  He gave His all.  What have you given Him?  He wants a loving, lasting relationship with you.  Making Christmas relational means to focus on family more than stressing out over the food.  Being relational means to seek forgiveness and redemption more than long-held grudges and angst.  Being relational could mean spending a little less money and a little more time.  You may think you can buy their affection now, but it will not last.  Simeon and Anna saw Jesus because they were thinking relationally.  Are you?

 

Santa and the Savior

In Christmas on December 9, 2014 at 7:29 am

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There seems to be so much talk these days among young parents as to what they should tell their kids about Santa.  I grew up believing, until I had a larger knowledge.  My wife grew up believing and I think she still does!  Our kids came along and we would talk about Santa, make cookies as a family to set out for Santa, and made sure the fireplace was open.  Now we have one who has “matured” and one who is on the fence.

Every year the kids get up see what is under the tree and from whom.  Every year we sit down on Christmas morning and read the real story of Christmas from Luke 2.  Every year.  We love it.

Some want to get rid of Santa because it “muddies the waters” of Christianity.  How can we believe in Santa and the Savior?  How can we afford to have both in our lives?  How could we ever teach our kids to believe in a myth and then call them to believe in the truth?  Let me share…

  1. Santa is generous. What a beautiful expression.  Here, in our fantasy land and imagination, we find a picture of generosity that will usher in the greatest giver and gift to be given!  Santa is not God.  Santa is not even a god.  He is a transitional element to help the littlest who cannot think abstractly experience giving concretely.
  2. Santa has boundaries. Everyone knows that Santa knows who is naughty and nice.  Those who want the gifts needs to act properly or risk less gifts.  God initiates the life/death, blessing/cursing in Deuteronomy through Moses.  The people did not earn their covenant, but they did earn their blessings.  You don’t earn your salvation, but you do earn the blessings afterward.  Santa helps us understand the boundaries of real life.
  3. Santa expresses forgiveness. Every child soon realizes that even if they aren’t really that good, Santa comes through.  He forgives and gives gifts to those deserving and undeserving.  Our Heavenly Father has provided forgiveness through Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection for those who are bad and “good”.
  4. Santa expresses kindness. Nickolas was a kind man.  Spreading love, good-will, and faith is one of the kindest things one can do.  The spirit behind the story reveals character that our culture needs.
  5. Santa is fun. I often wonder why we just can’t have fun and be a follower of Jesus.  I have known many young people who are fun people until they walk through the doors of the church.  Then they take on a different personality.  They become serious and sullen.  Let’s enjoy life!  Santa represents many things, not the least of which is the enjoyment of life.

Today’s media and business culture have taken the spirit and example of Santa and turned it into a cash cow.  Humanity has a way of doing this.  God gave people freedom and they built a tower of pride in Genesis 11.  That doesn’t make the freedom wrong.  God gave Israel a land flowing with milk and honey and they turned it into something wild and chaotic, but that doesn’t make the land wrong.  God gave us the cross and we have made it jewelry and fodder for tattoos, but that does not make the cross wrong.

We have an example in Santa of generosity, accountability, forgiveness and kindness.  Our culture has twisted it, but it doesn’t make Santa wrong.  Santa is not real.  Saint Nick is dead.  Yet, we need Santa.  Our kids need Santa.  Help them to see the good and let that parlay into spiritual guidance and discussions.

It’s Christmas!

In Christmas on December 2, 2014 at 9:02 am

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Christmas Time is here!

Friday, not Thursday, really gets the holidays pumping.  We say thank you all day and in a variety of ways on Thursday, but on Friday we push, pull, and charge our way through for more.  Black Friday is a well-known event, though not an official holiday (yet).  Store owners wistfully dream of coming back to a profit setting at the close of business and many will.

How did you spend your Friday?  Were you one that gave up and stayed as far away as possible?  Were you one that gave in and shopped but did not camp?  Were you that one who gave it your all and combed through every possible ad and put together a map and schedule for every store in order to fulfill your whole list in one day?

Many I know poke fun and ridicule those who “go all out” for this day.  In some ways, I am one of those who mock you.  Why?  I think it has to do more with the level of importance in the big picture.  We talk about giving our all, giving 110%, or being “all in”.  When we put the same importance across the board there is a loss of priority.  When we “leave it all” on the field for a game but cannot “give our all” to the things of Christ we have skewed our system.

What if we gave our all to the things of Christ?

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

God could have given up on us.  He could have thrown up His hands and said, “If you can’t earn it, you don’t get it.”  He could have just held us to the sacrificial system.  Giving up means that there is no hope any longer under the weight of an angry God.

God could have given in and walked away.  Who’s to say He could not have just gone and created another universe with a new Adam and Eve and left us.  How horrible!  Giving in means we are alone.

God gave us His all.  He gave us Jesus.  He gives us hope.  He gives us Himself.

What will you give?

I Hear the Bells Do You?

In Christmas on December 25, 2013 at 7:00 am

bellDoes the Bell Still Ring?

At one time most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.


The bell brings joy. 

The eyes always give them away.  Last night the kids were wide-eyed with excitement.  As they run in this morning to see the gifts under the tree is sheer joy, on their part and mine!  The joy around Christmas for children involves Santa and that brings joy in the innocence.  The bell brings joy because of belief.

When we choose to believe that a little baby named Jesus was born to die taking on our sins, our hearts ring with joy.  Joy of being relieved of all sin and guilt and shame.  “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.  And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”

Let not age or event remove your joy.


The bell brings stability.

Christmas comes on the same day every year.  Our Eve process always includes making cookies, opening some gifts, and watching Polar Express.  The kids know what is coming for weeks.  Since they still believe it affords this stability.  My daughter asked if we still believed. We said, “Yes.”  We responded in that way not because we believe in a person who rides a sleigh around the world in 24 hours while dropping gifts but because we believe in the spirit of giving that began with God giving us Jesus.

Like the boy who is teetering on whether to believe or not, we teeter on whether to believe in Jesus consistently or not.  We want to believe and to be real and relevant to the world around us.  Because we often are taught that we must choose one or the other, we feel unstable.  Because we are taught that to believe in Santa (or concept of) is absurd after a certain age we come to a point of difficulty.  When we finally settle down and choose to believe in Jesus regardless, we find a new stability of emotion, character and intellect we did not have before.

Don’t let age or event remove your stability.


The Bell of Innocence.

We live in a world where both love and stability are in short supply.  The innocence of youth has given way to now just being innocence of children.  I fear that I am witnessing that being given away to the innocence of pre-schoolers.  How long before innocence is gone at birth?  I pray that the bell of Christmas never grows cold or silent for you.  Cherish an innocence that Jesus brings through belief in what He has done.

Don’t let age or event remove your innocence or that of your family.


Merry Christmas.

O Little Town Of Bethlehem You Are Worth More Than You Know

In Christmas on December 24, 2013 at 7:39 pm

O little town of Bethlehem

As we gather together on this Christmas Eve and into Christmas Day, I am reminded of the journey the young couple took back to their home town.  So often families travel back to their hometowns and college kids, fresh from the urban life, return home to the place they only dreamed of leaving.  So many times, bad memories or rough situations await us during this time of year that attempts to steal our joy.  How did Bethlehem feel?  That insignificant dusty little suburb of Jerusalem held little relevance.

How many of us feel like that today?  But you, like Bethlehem, are just the right spot for God to do miracles!

Bethlehem may be small at this moment in Scripture, but she has a rich history.  That history was just what God wanted.

  • Through Rachel BIRTH & DEATH are associated with Bethlehem.
  • Through Ruth REDEMPTION is associated with Bethlehem.
  • Through David the ANOINTING OF A KING is associated with Bethlehem.
  • Through Micah the MESSIAH is associated with Bethlehem.

Now God’s greatest gift, the Messiah, was going to be brought into the world IN Bethlehem!  Everyone else might overlook her, but God did not.  You may feel people overlook you.  You may feel you have no value.  You might believe you are of little use.  However, God is preparing you for a larger work that you could ever imagine.  You have more value than you know.  You are completely relevant and important to God’s plan right now.  During a time when suicides are the highest, let us remind people that Bethlehem was considered useless except in the mind of God.  Your family issues are not to be discounted.  Your educational, spiritual, and cultural realities are all a part of the way God wants to place you into His grand plan.

Bethlehem would usher in a new age that would change the world.  What if your life right now is just the moment God chooses to change the world.  Are you ready?  Will you accept your lot in life?  If God can use a dusty dirty town that housed the low life shepherds to house his baby, then he certainly can use your life.  Keep your chin up, your mind alert, and your heart soft.  Watch what God can do!

Are the Christmas Ghosts Haunting You This Year

In Christmas, Life and Culture on December 16, 2013 at 9:17 am

Christmas-ghosts

What you have done never seems to escape you.  Where you are now is painful.  Where you are headed is terrifying.  Every Holiday season has the capacity to wear you out emotionally, physically, and financially.  The stress can be overwhelming!  How can we defeat the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future?  How can we restore joy in our hearts and a spring in our step?  How can we rise out of bed with a smile and go to sleep in peace?

Ghost of Christmas Past

We all have a past.  We all have regrets in life.  We can go back to a moment where

  • I wish I had not said that
  • I wish I had not done that
  • I wish I could change my reaction
  • I wish I could have that moment back

The problem is we cannot.  Our past is just that….past.  It is gone, but the hurt and harm lingers for some still today.  The thought of the Baby Child reminds us of the abortion years ago….or last year.  Mary and Joseph in the stable reminds you of poor upbringing and the issues that surrounded your home.  The small insignificant town of Bethlehem overshadowed by Jerusalem reminds you of the small town where you grew up.  You fight it.  You relive it.  You hate it.  The chains of the ghost of Christmas past are clanking in the back of your mind.

Ghost of Christmas Present

Far too many people live in stress and struggle to survive.  Our past controls us.  Our past haunts us.  The present circumstances we face are daunting and we do not have the esteem or confidence to deal properly with people or projects.  We overspend trying to wash away the guilt or shame of the past and now we multiply it presently.  We are deep in debt and have no hope but to be buried.  Our marriage is in shambles and our kids are crazy.  We find ourselves cranky the whole month and wish it were just over.  We are alone in a sea of people.  Either we see the bad in everything that is happening and cannot see the good, or we mask ourselves with made-up joy in order to avoid the stares and inquiries of family and friends.  There is no life in that life for sure.

Ghost of Christmas Future

Where we have been and who we are today are inexplicably tied together.  It is our choice what we do with all of those experiences.  Our future is still a thing to be shaped, or resurrected.  Our future has not yet come and can still be altered from the path on which you travel today.  Without some change, hope is all but dashed.  With some moment of awakening, the slumber of our soul and moral compass will be something from which you never recover.  The future as you see it now may be bleak, but it can be bright.

O Little Town of Bethlehem

And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee.  He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant.

The little, insignificant, bedroom community of Bethlehem has a rich history.  God had prepared her for centuries.  He had a great work He wanted to accomplish in her.

God used the event of Bethlehem’s history to shape her for just this moment so she could receive the Christ child.

God Bless Us Every One!

Your past that haunts and the present that hurts you does not have to bind you in the future.  Those events and circumstances that you have viewed for so long to be negative could actually be what propels you into a great work tomorrow.  These have all shaped you to be who you are today:

  • Family
  • Education
  • Spiritual Events
  • Cultural Circumstances

You, like Bethlehem, may view yourself or be viewed by others, as being without value.  You might not think you are worth a second glance.  But God has watched and waited for just this moment.  You are just the right spot for God to do His greatest work.  There is someone God wishes to reach with the Gospel and another to whom He wishes to grant great joy!  The former is yet to be known, but the latter is you.  God wants to bring you joy as He works through you to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Silencing the Voices

There are 3 things you must do in order to overcome those ghosts who haunt you.

1.  Be aware.  Slow down and consider that God wishes to use every part of your past and present.  Nothing happens by chance or fate.  God is control and allows what He deems necessary in order for the greater good of the Gospel and His Kingdom.  Evaluate your life experience based on this new consideration

2.  Be a friend.  There is someone who needs your life and experience in order to find God.  Someone near you is going through a life event: birth, death, graduation, grief, promotion, bankruptcy, divorce, marriage, etc.  These are great moments to be their friend.  Laugh and cry with them.

3.  Be ready.  Silence is golden unless God calls you to speak.  Be ready to share your life and story.  Bridge the gap and heal the hurt they may have with God.

Black Friday

In Evangelism, Life and Culture on November 29, 2013 at 8:46 am

Today is the day when crazed people who have pitched their tents outside of their favorite store will receive the best deals.  Today is the day when those who can shove the hardest, sift the fastest, and move the swiftest will acquire all 22 family members gifts by lunch!  The Army, whose motto has been that they do more before breakfast than most people do all day, has nothing on Black Friday shoppers!

How did all of this start? (Full Article)

For millions of people Black Friday is the time to do some serious Christmas shopping –even before the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone! Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving, and it’s one of the major shopping days of the year in the United States falling anywhere between November 23 and 29. While it’s not recognized as an official US holiday, many employees have the day off except those working in retail.

The term “Black Friday” was coined in the 1960s to mark the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season. “Black” refers to stores moving from the “red” to the “black,” back when accounting records were kept by hand, and red ink indicated a loss, and black a profit. Ever since the start of the modern Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924, the Friday after Thanksgiving has been known as the unofficial start to a bustling holiday shopping season.

In the 1960’s, police in Philadelphia griped about the congested streets, clogged with motorists and pedestrians, calling it “Black Friday.” In a non-retail sense, it also describes a financial crisis of 1869: a stock market catastrophe set off by gold spectators who tried and failed to corner the gold market, causing the market to collapse and stocks to plummet. (1)

As many of us shop this day in stores or online, let us remember another black Friday long, long ago.

Jesus had been up all night in court.  He was slapped, mocked, spat on, whipped, and abused.  Now He was hanging on a cross with two thieves. This action was being carried out by the Romans, but was initiated by God.  Our lives are in the red.  We are losing and have no way of gaining a profit on our own.  Instead of the business closing, our lives are on the line.  If we die with our spiritual account in the red we will eternally be absent from God in a place called Hell.  However, God, loving us like He does, provided a way for us to come back into the black and have our debt removed.  Jesus died.  he was buried.  He rose again on Sunday providing for our needs in a way we never could. (Start reading here.)

As you shop for those gifts, remember the greatest gift given.

As you help retailers find their way back to black, remember that God has provided a way for you also.  May Black Friday remind us of our spiritual need before God.

Are you “in the black” with God?

How to Receive a Gift

In Christmas on December 25, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Gift

Christmas is such a time for giving!  Some people absolutely love to give gifts.  Some people love to receive gifts.  The rest fall somewhere in the middle.  In light of the day, I have observed 4 ways people receive gifts:

Consume – some people simply tear through gifts without regard to what it is, who gave it, or where it lands.  Masters of this response can open all their gifts in record time.  Time trials are done over birthday parties in preparation for the BIG day.  Consumers consume.  Like people who do not chew their food but swallow it whole, these people are unhealthy because the givers begin to feel like there is massive ingratitude.  The Innkeeper in Luke 2 had this issue.  Seeing profits rather than people this man’s business problems were also socio-spiritual ones.  He could not see past the “get” part.

Joy – the most fun response is joy.  We see the smiles, giggles, and wide-eyed glimmers as the gifts are received and recognized.  This response is fun for all involved.  Even the Scrooges have a hard time not smiling.  Each gift is taken and opened with enthusiasm.  The paper may be ripped to shreds but there is a moment of pause as the face lights up, squeals ensue, and th.e gift cherished.  The Shepherds in Luke 2 were ecstatic!  They left all they had to go and see what they already believed to be true.  True joy was rewarded with the experience of being some of the first to witness the greatest gift of all in Jesus.

Intrigue – these responders are positive and puzzled.  They are trying to process what they just opened without being negative.  These quizzical types just ask questions, but respond with faith, hope, and worship.  The Magi responded in this way.  They did not understand everything about the sky and stars but left it all to go and discover the truth behind the “royal king” star.  Like the shepherds, they bowed the knee and worshiped the Christ child.

Criticism – opening the gifts they become angry and dark.  These responders want more or different items.  “Why this?”  “You couldn’t do more?”  “Is that all?”  “Don’t you know I hate this?”  Herod responded in this way.  He could not see the glory of the gift.  He only had hatred in his heart.

This Christmas, how will you receive the gifts of God?  How will you receive the message of His love?  How have you responded to His actions this past year?  We cannot always see the plan behind the events that surround us.  Will respond with greed, joy, faithful intrigue, or criticism?  I pray that in light of national or personal tragedies that we/you have encountered this year all will see God’s love and path of peace in Jesus Christ!

Merry Christmas.

 

Warm-Ups

In Decisions, Jesus on December 5, 2012 at 3:02 pm

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I am working with our children for our Christmas musical.  During one recent practice I had just the script people working on memorization.  As we were going through the script I noticed it was getting flat during the telling of the birth of Jesus Christ.  By that I mean that there was no emotion, no joy, nothing.  Lines were being read but they were losing their meaning.  I stopped the kids and encouraged them to read and say the lines as if it was for the first time.  They had read these lines dozens of times.  We had gone over them many times as a group.  At this point the lines were not new.  The emotion was lost.  It was cold.  Reading back through it as if it were the first time brought joy and warmth back to the script.  We laughed and carried on but we all learned something valuable that day.

The familiar has a way of losing its meaning.

We see this problem in many ways.  A marriage grows cold as romance lessens and familiarity grows.  While you would think that the more we know the hotter things get, it actually works the opposite if we do not work at it.  The job you were so passionate to get becomes routine and boring.  The adrenaline rush you once had from attempting certain feats lessens and you have to keep doing things bigger and more dangerous.  Even in church we find ourselves yawning and looking at our watch.  Worship does not just happen to you.  Worship is what you do toward a Holy God.  We must work at it.  The Bible has become something we know but not something we let change us.  We have grown cold to the calls of the Holy Spirit through Scripture.  Even the story of the birth of Jesus Christ has grown stale for many in light of cultural standards of relativism and consumerism.

The fact that a teenage girl was visited by an angel, got pregnant and stayed a virgin seems impossible.  The fact that the guy would stay with her through it all and not sleep with her until after the birth is incredible…almost unbelievable!  In the 9th month she travels by donkey.  The bouncing probably causes her water to break.  They are frantic to find a spot to spend the night.  There are no rooms.  However, there is a barn.  There is a trough.  There is hay.  In the middle of this scene, a baby is born.  Not just any baby.  The Son of God whom Joseph would raise as his own.  Let the story touch you again this year.

Don’t allow that which is familiar to lose its meaning.  Choose to have joy.  Choose to be a follower of Christ.  Choose to bring warmth back into your life.

 

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