Have you ever experienced the darkness? I mean REALLY dark darkness! I’m talking darkness beyond: the eerie darkness of a campsite deep in the woods on a moonless night; the frighting darkness that comes during a hurricane; when the power goes out and all the windows are board up. or the paralyzing darkness of fear. […]
My neighborhood is beginning to take on the beauty of Christmas. The lady on the corner is our “All Star” best decoration winner every year! She has a special gift of creating dazzling vignettes all over her yard. My eyes skip from one delightful scene to the other as I linger over the beauty when […]
I’m serious. Whose gift list would you like to be on? Come on…just for fun…think with me for just a minute…if you could be on anyone’s and I mean anyone’s…whose gift list who would it be? Would you pick someone that is wealthy to experience the lavishness of wealth? Would you pick someone […]
I asked my daughter again, the same question I asked her last year and I asked my son and most of the people that really matter to me and yes, it’s the same question every year… “What do you want me to get you?” When it comes to gift giving I never have a clue. […]
Scripture calls them wise, but behind their knowledge was curiosity, a desire to: know learn discover. Which came first? I’m not sure which came first; seeing the star or seeing the prophecy. I don’t know if the brillant sign in the dark sky drove them to search for the why behind it’s arrival or […]
I want to share a table scape with a Candy Cane Prayer Christmas message with you. A beautiful table with a beautiful message, a winning combination for sure. I’ve been putting up Christmas decorations. Designing table scapes are my favorite thing to do in the whole world, well, except preaching and playing with my grandkids […]
And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7 NAS It is only mentioned in Luke. And Luke doesn’t comment. He simply states the fact…no room. Nothing more. I want more information. How many […]
Every child understands Christmas is about the gift. It is about giving gifts. Getting gifts. YEAH! Whoops, did I get a little too carried away there? Sorry! Gifts… But not just any gift. The perfect gift. A gift that won’t get broken. That won’t get stolen. A gift that is just perfect for the recipient. A […]
It’s a gift. Not the gift, but a gift. You know an ability that you either got it or you don’t. Gift wrapping is an art and some of us just don’t have it. Have you ever gotten a gift from someone that does have the gift, the wrap a gift gift? (Did I completely […]
It’s too important to miss! The message. The why. The reason behind the gifts. The purpose behind the celebration. It’s not about the box, it’s what’s in the box, what’s behind the celebration that makes it so important! It’s so simple even a child can understand it, but it’s not childish. Children seem to understand […]
My heart is broken for the parents and families that lost their children and loved ones in the horrific tragedy Friday. I mourn with them. I cannot begin to imagine their loss as its reality seeps into their lives shattering their normal and leaving a gaping hole in their hearts. This was a […]
We ministered in Tallahassee this weekend at Freedom Church. My dear friends Kyle and Becky Alford are the Family and Children’s pastors there. They are passionate God chasers that are shaping lives with the Word of God. I was invited to minister to the parents during the Sunday School hour, the church family in the main worship service and Children’s Ministry Leaders late that afternoon. My day was packed with loving people, excited believers and a sense of faith that permeated everything they do. It is a wonderful church that is impacting lives with the love of God and the Truth of God’s Word.
My day was literally filled with special, memorable moments and people, still one little guy was extra special. His mom introduced each of her three children by name and they greeted me politely. (Don’t you just love it when children have good manners!) The least little fellow bubbled, “Do you know how many days until Christmas?”
I asked, “How many days?”
His answer exploded from his mouth, “Twenty-three days!” While I don’t know much about this little guy beyond the fact that he was absolutely adorable, my guess is, there is ONE thing driving his excitement and it’s not the meal they’ll eat at lunchtime. I’m guessing that his excitement has something to do with the presents.
I remember that same excitement from my children. In order to savor their joy and excitement, we took turns opening presents. Wayne and I wanted to watch them open their presents, and if we didn’t have them take turns they ripped everything open at once and we didn’t get to see it. Their excitement is still etched in the halls of my most treasured memories. They would jump and scream and hoot and holler when they opened their gifts. Sometimes they would run and hug us; sometimes they wouldn’t want to open anything else because they wanted to play with the toy they had just opened. Of course, the shirts and pants never got quite that kind of reaction, but the toys sure did.
It’s a funny thing though, as I think about it, all those toys that brought them so much joy are gone now. Jason has a few of his GI Joe soldiers and Kimberly may still have Katherine, one of her special dolls, but all the other toys are long gone. Broken. Lost. Given away. Thrown away. Those toys don’t bring them joy now…because like everyone else, when we grow up; our desires change–we change. Gifts don’t bring the excitement they once did.
For an adult it is so easy to allow Christmas to be wrapped in the drudgery of responsibly. Gottta buy the gifts-can we afford it? Got to bake the cookies–where will I find the time? Got to put up the tree–isn’t anybody going to help me? Ahhh! Got to buy more gifts–what do they want–I hate the crowds! Got to wrap the presents-I’ll be glad when Christmas is over! No excitement! No joy! Just a whirlwind of activity!
While I believe there are some practical suggestions that I can offer and I will at the bottom of this blog, I am convinced that Christmas joy is for everyone and the instructions that the angels gave the shepherds in Luke 2 are appropriate for you today.
Luke 2:10 nlt but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone!
- Don’t be afraid. No matter what you are going through, what your situation is–don’t be afraid. Trust in God. He has the answer.
- Embrace the good news. Receive the joy.
- Find Jesus. (Luke 2:12 nlt And this is how you will recognize him:) v16 They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.
- Share Jesus. v17 nlt Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened
- Worship Jesus. v20 nlt The shepherds went back to their fields and flocks, glorifying and praising God
Some practical suggestions are:
- Set a realistic budget or limit of what you will spend and stick with it!
- Don’t try to do everything by yourself! Give everyone in your family a job and do it together. Make it fun. Decorate while listening to Christmas music and the promise of eggnog and sugar cookies when they are done.
- Don’t go crazy with the decorations, the cooking or the cleaning. Relax. Do your best without making yourself and everyone around you crazy!
Enjoy Christmas. Enjoy your family. Laugh together. Stop and smell the Christmas tree, unless it’s artificial, then maybe not
Give a gift that will make a difference in their lives!
Think Missional! Pass this on to someone you think may enjoy it or need it.