I’m sure you do Thanksgiving right at your house! Everyone has their traditions, favorite dishes and ways to go about celebrating this holiday. No matter how you do it, there are a few common things that we all do to help us enjoy Thanksgiving.
Growing up, this seemed like the craziest part of the whole day. Are we really spending days getting ready for something that will take us 30 minutes or less to devour?! And the answer is: yes! We should treat our lives like we prepare for the Thanksgiving meal. It may not be the most fun part of your life, but it is possibly the most important. As I’ve grown, I’ve learned to appreciate and find the joy in the preparation as much as in the eating.
This might be the most Biblical thing we do all year! Think about how often food is talked about and consumed in the Bible. From Adam and Eve eating the unidentified fruit all the way to the marriage supper of the Lamb, food is a big deal. One of my favorite Thanksgiving quotes is from Kevin James. “Thanksgiving man. Not a good day to be my pants.” Enjoy all the work you have put in. Celebrate when the preparation has paid off. It’s okay to sit back and enjoy.
3. Clean Up
I was told this a lot growing up, and now I tell my kids this all the time: pick up after yourselves! You baked and made a mess, don’t leave it for someone else to clean up! You ate a lot, and probably ate some more. Clean up your mess. If we aren’t careful in life, we can leave a mess wherever we go. This happens with the words we speak, the things we do and even the things we don’t do.. Proverbs 14:4 says, “Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; but increase comes by the strength of the ox.” Messes are a part of life. Don’t let it stop you from doing big things! Make great meals! Work hard and prepare always. But don’t forget to clean up after yourself!
Enjoy your Thanksgiving today, but let these thoughts resonate through you everyday. “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings” - William Arthur Ward
It is that time of year again! Ready or not Thanksgiving is quickly approaching. Time flies when you are having fun...and when you are not having fun! Time just flies. If I were honest, I would have to say that Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday. Most that love it, do so because of the food. I like to eat as much as the next person, but Turkey? Really?! If it were that great, why don't we eat it all year round? (and not just sliced on a sandwich!) If we started serving steak, pork chops or prime rib, I could see it climbing to the top of the holidays chart!
The reason I do love Thanksgiving is because it brings us back to this idea of thankfulness. I'm sure your family does the "go around the table and tell us what your thankful for," bit. I'm also sure at this time of year you hear a sermon or some conversation about being thankful all year, not just at Thanksgiving. Either way, it is a great time to talk about giving thanks. Regardless of being cliche, here are a few thoughts I have on Thankfulness!
1. Be thankful in the moment.
When God does something in your life, thank Him! When someone blesses you, thank them! Don't wait. Not only should we be thankful for the bigger things in life, but also for the small things that we tend to take for granted.
Yes, I'm asking you to be that person. The person who is always thankful for every little thing. Be thankful that you woke up this morning! Be thankful that you can walk and talk. Be thankful for clean water and a warm house. Even though "these people" can be overly positive and happy, it is likely because they are overly thankful. One of my favorite passages about thankfulness is found in Colossians 3:16. "Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." This is how we should live our lives. Those around us would take notice, even if it's because we are now "those people!"
2. Remember what God has done.
It doesn't take long for the newness of anything to come to an end. I remember when we first purchased our new minivan. Yes, we are minivan people much to my wife's chagrin! No food, no drinks, don't touch anything, this van is going to stay as nice as when we bought it. I'm not saying that it is now a pig pen, but I'm also saying that food and drink are a pretty regular occurrence in it, and after a vacation...well, let's just say it takes quite some time to clean it up!
We do the same thing in our lives. We thank God in the moment, but then the moment passes. Psalm 103:2 in The Message says, "O my soul, bless God, don't forget a single blessing!" Don't forget one single thing that He has done for you. Write them down and talk about them with your family so you can remember them often!
3. Don't let your blessing become a burden.
You may or may not know what I am talking about here, so let me give you an illustration. You have prayed and prayed that God would give you a job that can provide for you. The door opens and you could not be more excited. You are so thankful and tell everyone what God has done! Months and maybe years have gone by and we forget that this was a blessing. Why? Because the job isn't fun anymore. There are frustrating co-workers and bosses. It wasn't everything you hoped it would be. I'm not saying that you should stay miserable, but I am saying how quickly we can turn a blessing from God into a burden in our lives.
If I can meddle a little further, we can do the same thing at home. We pray to have a child and God finally answers! We call them a miracle baby, because that is exactly what they are. Every parent reading this is well aware that sleepless nights are ahead! Paying for diapers and changing these diapers are right around the corner. Pretty soon they are eating you out of house and home! If we aren't careful, in the middle of those moments, we can forget what a blessing it was to find out, "we're pregnant!"
We are not alone. The Israelites did just this! In Numbers 11 it states, "We're starving out here, and the only food we have is this manna." It wasn't that long before this that they were actually starving and God saved their life with this same manna. Don't be like the Israelites!
4. Are you still thankful?
I'll end with this thought: are you still thankful for what God has done in your life? If you aren't careful, the very blessing God gave you can become a wedge between you and Him. It can become the very thing that pushes you away. How you handle what God has blessed you with is important. Let's not lose sight or perspective in this life. It is easy to look at the moment and lose sight of the faithfulness of God through it all.
Let this time of year remind you to be thankful. It's okay if it's cliche. Share at the table with your family. Think about all that God has done. Thank Him that "all things work for good." Thank Him for the abundance, the child, the job, the unanswered prayers and even the trials that have made you what you are today! I'll close with a quote from Meister Eckhart, a German theologian who died in 1328:
"If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, 'Thank You,' that would suffice."
This may very well be the most beautiful time of the year! I love the look of snow on the ground, but I live in Memphis, TN and that is a very rare occurrence. Some might argue that Spring is where it is at. The flowers are blooming, the trees are starting to blossom. God is the Master Creator for sure! There is something so special about the hues of red, yellow and orange. Add to that the mountains of Tennessee and it might take your breath away!
Mountains have always held a special place in my heart. I lived the first six years of my life in Colorado. Denver is known as the mile-high city, and the the mountains are not done climbing from there. It is an awe-inspiring sight. We would travel back often to go skiing or further up to the Grand Tetons near Yellowstone. There's just something about the mountains.
Now I live in Tennessee. Whenever my wife and I can get away from the busyness of life, we try to make a trip to the Smokies. I've joked that they aren't "real mountains" since I have seen the promised land out west! But when you start making your way that direction, especially this time of year, they too stir in your heart a desire to climb; a desire to explore; a desire for more!
I have wanderlust for sure. There is no doubt. Honestly, I tend to feel the same way spiritually. Hearing a distant call asking me to climb; asking me to explore; telling me that there is so much more!
There is a passage of scripture that appeals to this inside of me and maybe inside of you as well. We find it in Numbers 33. Here is how it reads:
"While they were at the foot of Mount Hor, Aaron the priest was directed by the Lord to go up the mountain, and there he died."
(For more context you are welcome to read Numbers 20:22-29.)
For today, in this moment, I want to pause on this particular passage. The Lord called Aaron to go up the mountain. What a thought! He had seen several times the Lord calling Moses to climb so he can meet with God. I wonder what Aaron was thinking? What might have been going on in his mind at the time? Did his heart start to race as he took the first couple of steps?! I hear the Lord calling and even beckoning us come to Him!
And this is our journey as well. God has something He has called each of us for. A mountain, one might say, for us to climb. With everything inside of me, I want to live my life in such a way that when God calls, I answer. When He tells me to go, I run without a second thought. Where He goes I will follow, no turning back. This is how Aaron died: doing what God called him to do.
God, let me die on the mountain! Let me die following after you with all that I am! Let me be found faithful and worthy of the calling that you have for me!
He's calling to you...can you hear Him?!
I will be completely honest: I'm not sure I have ever seen a fig. I know I haven't in real life. I have eaten plenty of fig newtons in my day. They are delicious. I am also the proud owner of a fiddle-leaf fig tree. It is in my dining room and now taller than I am. Joanna Gaines has something to do with this tree in my house, I'm sure!
Why all this talk about figs? You must know where I am going by now. Let's quickly read a passage in Mark 11. "Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, (Jesus) was hungry. And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. In response Jesus said to it, 'Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.'"
Jesus is Hungry
There is so much here that I want to share with you, but let's start with this idea that Jesus was hungry. This I can relate to! He is a person just like any of us. Being hungry is a state of being for me. My son is the same way at 13 and can eat whatever he wants as he is growing. For me, I have had to learn how to live hungry, as my metabolism isn't the same anymore! Can anyone else relate?!
So, Jesus is hungry and sees this fig tree as the solution to his hunger. We all know that "you aren't yourself when you're hungry!" Since there weren't Snickers around, Jesus goes for the figs. When he gets closer to the tree, he realizes that there aren't any figs, curses the tree and moves on with life... Hold on! Jesus curses the fig tree? It wasn't even the season for figs!
The Kingdom of Heaven
Let's back up for a moment to the beginning of Jesus' ministry on earth. the Bible tells us that Jesus went around preaching the repentance of sin and that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand. Later, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches his disciples and those on the hillside how to pray. In that prayer he said, 'Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.' There is a grand conception that Jesus is introducing to us that the Kingdom of Heaven is here and now, not reserved for somewhere else and later. In fact, if you read in Revelation 21 it shows that heaven is in fact here on a new earth!
What does all of this have to do with a fig tree. I'm getting there. Let's first understand that the principles of the heavenly kingdom, can and should be lived out here in our earthly one. No longer should we use this "heaven is far off" mentality to excuse our normal, Spirit-less lives.
In the Garden of Eden (I know I'm going even further back in the Bible!) there were two trees, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life. Flipping all the way back to Revelation 22 we see that one of these trees is still in existence: the Tree of Life. This tree is planted by the stream of water flowing from the throne room of God! Here is where the fig tree comes in. This Tree of Life produced fruit in every month and every season.
It is clear in Scripture that it wasn't the season for figs, but that is the earthly way of thinking. Jesus came to transform the way that we think to a heavenly way. In the heavenly kingdom, trees produce fruit at all times. There is no "out of season" for fruits like we see at Kroger.
You and I
This goes way beyond a fig tree. In fact, you and I are the fig tree. Our earthly mindset says that we are able to bear fruit periodically in our lives. It says that every once in awhile, something good will come of what we have said or done. Note, the fruit we bear is not for us, but for those around us.
The Kingdom mindset tells us that we can bear fruit in all seasons. One of my favorite passages in the Bible is found in 2 Kings 4. Elisha is meeting in Gilgal with his band of prophets and there is a famine in the land. He looks at his servant and asks him to feed the prophets. Earthly mindset: There is a famine, how can I feed these men? Kingdom mindset: There is a famine, but I can produce fruit in season and out of season.
Another familiar passage that comes to mind as I wrap up, is the boy with his lunch. Before this boy came forward with his fish and loaves, Jesus asked his disciples to feed the 5000 plus women and children. The disciples had an earthly response: "We don't have enough money or food to sufficiently feed this many people." I love how Jesus is not shook by this earthly mindset. Instead, he insists that they sit in small groups so that they may be fed.
Jesus is asking the same of you and I. Whether we have a lot or little, God is asking us to use it to advance His Heavenly Kingdom here on earth. His desire is that we bear much fruit, in season or out of season.
I love the snow! Don’t hate on me for that. I grew up in Nebraska and Colorado. This past week for me has been a fun reminder of my childhood. We would build forts, have snowball fights and play king of the hill on the piles of snow that the snow plows pushed to the side.
Unlike Memphis, life had to go on. That’s not a knock on the South. We don’t get much snow here, so we aren’t equipped to deal with it on a regular basis. Where I grew up, if you didn’t learn to live in it, life would stop every October to March!
What I’ve loved about the snow this time, is it was enough to cover everything. All the ugly of winter is gone. I’ve always said, if it’s going to be cold, there might as well be snow on the ground! Not rainy and cold. Not muddy and lifeless. Snowy and beautiful. It makes everything seem to come alive. (cue Greatest Showman!)
The one who hates the snow with everything inside her is my dog. I’m pretty sure she has stopped eating and drinking so she doesn’t have to go outside. Even this morning, Amond got her out of the kennel and she went straight for her bed. She would barely look at me. She knew what was coming!
My kids think that it’s so much fun taking her outside. Her fur is white, so she blends in. She is also very small and all this snow is almost as deep as she is tall. Their favorite part is the yellow snow. I know, gross. I’m sure you’ve heard it before: don’t eat the yellow snow!
What our dog leaves behind does not look good with the beautiful snow. Amond was thankful when the second snowfall came and covered everything up again. All of our footprints, snow angels, and even what was left behind from our dog! Here’s the crazy part though. It’s still there. It hasn’t gone anywhere.
Once the snow melts away, all of the mess is still there. If we aren’t careful, this is how we live our lives. We put a nice fluffy layer of snow over everything! We try our best to cover our tracks and hide our ugliness inside.
Yes, God certainly forgives. In fact He says, “though your sin be like scarlet, I will make it white like snow!” For that to happen, we have to uncover what’s lying below. We have to admit our struggle and our weakness.
Here’s what I know: “Your sin will find you out.” At some point in your life, the snow will melt and everything will be exposed. I have seen so many pastors and leaders “fall” in this season. Covid may have brought out the best or the worst in humanity. It has been exposing to say the least.
At the end of the day, when the layers are pulled back, I want those closest to me to still think the best of me. I want to be tried and come out more beautiful than ever. I want to deal with what’s hiding now, rather than wait for it to drag me down later. My character will always be more important to me than my platform.
I hope you can echo the words of David in Psalm 51. He had blown it big time and tried to cover it up. Thankfully, he had a good friend in Nathan the prophet who was willing to call him out. David repented with these words, “Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.” His number one concern was his position before God, not his position before man.
When the snow melts away in our life, let’s be found worthy of the calling God has placed on our lives!
For a few years, while I was younger, I worked at Ruby Tuesday's waiting tables in Maryville, TN. I'm not sure if there is one in Memphis anymore, which is a shame. They have an incredible salad bar! I didn't work there long, maybe 4-5 months in all. Waiting tables can be a great way to make a little extra money, but for me, it was stressful. My wife waited tables through college and loved it. I, on the other hand, would get too worked up. I wanted orders to be right, food to be on time, and everything to be perfect. I would always think, how would I want to be served. Actually, if I'm being honest, I was thinking, "how can I make a better tip?!" This was the goal. Do whatever and say whatever, to make the customer happy and my wallet full!
We all know that this is not true service. I have not always been the best example of this! As you read God's Word, it becomes very clear that this is our purpose though. Jesus said in Matthew 20, that "He did not come to be served, but to serve." How much more should we serve, if we see God doing just that?! It's not always glamorous, and it doesn't always give us a "great tip." If that is what you are looking for, then it isn't service to begin with.
As we look at Scripture, some of my favorite servers are found in the book of Acts. In Chapter 6 we see seven men chosen to serve the church. "Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, 'It is not desirable that we should leave the word or God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.'"
As they prayed they chose the seven, two of which were Stephen and Philip. Did you catch the requirements for service? As we serve others we should do it full of the Holy Spirit while trying our best to have a good reputation among others. Obviously, we can't please everyone or have everyone like us at all times. Romans 8 does tell us though, "If it is possible on your part, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Stephen and Philip served faithfully in everything given to them. How do I know this? God would not have elevated them later in scripture if they were not faithful in serving the widows. Stephen did "great wonders and signs among the people," verse 8 tells us. In fact, he became the first martyr in the church because of the incredible way that God used him. God will not give you more if you are not faithful with what you have. Wherever you are, be faithful. With whatever you have, be faithful.
We see Philip given more in Acts 8 as he ministers to the Ethiopian. Listen to what Smith Wigglesworth has to say about Philip: "Man chose him to serve tables, but God chose him to win souls. O, if I could only stir you up to see that as you are faithful in performing the humblest office, God can fill you with His Spirit and make you a chosen vessel for Himself, and promote you to a place of mighty ministry in the salvation of souls and in the healing of the sick."
I love this statement. If you could only see that being faithful in the little, stirs the heart of God. Doing the best with what you have, causes God's head to turn your direction. "Whoever wants to become great among you," Jesus said in Matthew 20, "must be your servant."
This is the way of the Kingdom.
Being found faithful.
It’s the day before Christmas Eve. A day in our house we affectionately call, “Christmas Adam.” I’ll let you piece that together! For obvious reasons, I am a fan of this day.
For most of you, I would like to think it is a day of preparation and planning. There will be cooking, cooking and more cooking. Christmas presents are getting wrapped and put under the tree. So much to do and so little time. Christmas is only two days away!
What a day it will be! Nothing beats the look on my kids face as they open the presents they were given. It’s so much fun to sit around the table with family and friends as you eat the food that was prepared. As much as we would like every day to be Christmas, it just can’t be. And there can’t be a Christmas without a “Christmas Adam.” It has to start somewhere.
In the same manner, the Christmas story didn’t start with an empty tomb, or even a manger. It started with a young lady willing to say yes. She said yes to going about her life with added complications. It started with a young man willing to listen and not get a divorce. It started with shepherds being diligent in the fields and wise men willing to travel day after day, week after week.
We don’t often see this side of things. When you’re opening the presents you don’t see the time and money spent beforehand. When you eat the meal, you usually don’t think of the time it took to prepare it. We only see the surface, the tip of the iceberg you might say. We see the end result of something worked hard for.
In Zechariah 4:10 it says, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” God has placed a dream in your heart. He has given you passions and talents, purpose and vision. Seeing the fruition of these is similar to Christmas. It’s what we want to live in, where we desire to end up. Just like every Christmas needs a Christmas Adam, so every dream needs a small beginning.
We must now and always be faithful with the little we have been given. The planning and preparing are needed. The time and money is essential. There is work to do in the here and now. It’s not always glamorous and it’s not always in the spotlight. But it is all necessary. Put in the effort. Pay it forward. Work hard in the mundane. Find the joy in the grind.
If you want to see your Christmas come to pass in your life, let’s start with your Christmas Adam!
Full. This is a word we are going to use frequently this season! At least I am. It is the time of feasting. Last night we gathered safely for our high school Christmas party at First Assembly. We had pizza (a youth ministry staple), wings, soda, cider, and more desserts than we were able to eat. Everyone should have left full.
It is said the be the most wonderful time of the year. It’s the time for Christmas cookies, pies, fudge, more Turkey and dressing and perhaps even a holiday ham! Everyone around the table should end the day full.
We don’t leave events like these or meals at this time full only in body. We also leave full in spirit. A gathering with close family and friends, at this time of the year, makes us leave full in our hearts. Even if you choose to downsize your Christmas a bit this year, you can walk away full and overflowing with joy and love. Paul, in his letter to the church in Philippi said, “there were times I had a lot and times I have had little. I have learned the secret to being content. I can do ALL things through Christ.” (My paraphrase) Let's learn that secret this year!
The enemy would like to destroy everything in our lives right now. Especially these times that are meant for great joy! In John 10:10 it states that he would love to ‘steal, kill and destroy’ our lives. I’m thankful that God doesn’t leave us with that. He says that Jesus came to this earth that we might have life, and life to the...full! This is not just surviving, but rather thriving. Even during this year! Whether you are surrounded by all your loved ones or not this year, God promises that you can be full. You will have more than enough.
I love that about the God we serve. He gives us what we need, and often we have something leftover. Think of the boy's lunch. It was able to feed five-thousand people, with twelve baskets to spare. When God fills us, this is what happens. We leave full and overflowing, ready to give of what we have. This is what fullness does. Like a balloon, ready to pop. What's on the inside shines through for all to see.
There is a great passage of scripture in Galatians 4:4-5, "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons." I love this great Christmas passage. When the fullness of time had come. Think of the imagery here. Heaven, like the full balloon, is waiting in anticipation each and every day since the fall in the garden. It has grown with excitement until this moment in history. And then everything happened at once. The heavens burst open. Gabriel came with the message to Mary and Joseph. The star appeared in the sky. The angels sang like no choir had ever sung. The shepherds, full and overflowing themselves, went everywhere sharing the news of the newborn King. Mary and Joseph, in a lowly stable, deeming with pride and joy as they as they held the babe. God Himself, came down from heaven to redeem humankind!
How amazing is the Christmas story?! What's even more incredible to me, is that you and I get to participate in it all. We can be made full, through Christ, to overflowing. We can partake in "the fullness of time," by allowing God to be with us and use us, no matter the situation we find ourselves in. We can be so full of the fruits of the Spirit, that everywhere we go, we are spilling over with the Love of Christ!
As we fill ourselves with the great food of this great season, let's not neglect allowing God to fill us to overflowing with His Spirit as well. So all the world may know that Jesus has come, so that we may have life. And that very life to the full!
Last night my family decided to build and decorate a gingerbread house. Let me rephrase that, we decided to decorate a gingerbread house! In years past we have bought the kits that you have to put together. They usually end up a disaster. The moment you put the first candy on the roof, the whole thing collapses. It can be frustrating. You have to put more frosting on to keep it together, which only makes it looks worse. The more we tried, the more we failed! Seems like 2020! This year, we bought a pre-made kit. It’s the way to go!
I don’t know about you, but I sure hope 2021 looks a little more like the pre-made gingerbread house! But as we near Christmas and New Years, it becomes more and more real to me that everything “2020,” is not going to just disappear. There isn’t going to be a reset button pushed when the clock strikes midnight. For all intents and purposes, 2020 has almost become a curse word! It feels like Psalm 77:10, “This is my fate; the Most High has turned his hand against me.” I guess this is the way it is going to be.
I won’t take you down memory lane, but when all this started, I saw so many saying things like, “I can’t wait for this year to be over!” I did to. And I’m sure you did as well. There can be many reasons for you to have had a difficult year. I don’t want to be dismissive of any of it. But, here we are. For better or worse the year is about to be over, but “2020” isn’t. What do we do and how do we live heading into 2021? My advice: “walk into the house.” Let me explain.
You are all very familiar with the story of the prodigal son. I like to say that they are both prodigals to a certain extent. If you have not read this parable Jesus shared, you can find it starting in Luke 15:11. The quick version is that the younger demands his inheritance, and squanders it. He realizes that home wasn’t so bad. He returns and his father throws a party! The older son has been busy working in the fields. When he returns for the day, he hears commotion at the house. Instead of going in, he pulls his servant aside and asks what is going on. In verse 28 it says, “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.”
I get the frustration on his end. I’ve been there. Here is the problem that I have found in my own life. If you aren’t checking your attitude as the faithful, you will become the prodigal. So why doesn’t he walk into the house?
He doesn’t trust the father. And quite honestly, neither do we. Trust only comes from proximity and knowledge. Therefore, we have a warped perspective of our Father. We end up serving something or someone other than God.
Let me say it this way:
Is God good?
Is He faithful?
Does He want what’s best for you?
Does He always care?
Does He know you?
Does He know what you need?
Does He love you?
If you answered yes to these questions, then why not walk into the house? I’m not trying to throw guilt, but I do hope this convicts. God wants you to enjoy this time. To find the good through it. He wants you to celebrate going into 2021, and not dread it.
How do we accomplish this?
One of the best ways that I know how, is to finish Psalm 77. I quoted verse 10 earlier. Here is what verse 11 says, “But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.” Don’t forget all that God has done for you. Don’t forget His mercies and His grace. Don’t forget His provision and His love.
Don’t forget that Jesus walked into the house. For Him it looked like a manger and a cross. Those weren’t pleasant years on earth. Now we celebrate those days and call them Christmas and Good Friday. Our bad Fridays can become Good Friday’s too. All you have to do is trust the Father as He welcomes you inside.
Now that Thanksgiving is over, let the Christmas music begin! Shame on all of you who listen early! We don’t want to overdo it and make it lose it’s magic. The reality is, there is something magical (I’m using that term lightly) about this time of year. I’m sure that is why so many start the music up early. We can’t wait for it to all begin!
Whether it’s Mariah Carey’s, All I Want For Christmas is You, or Andy Williams, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, these songs take us to a special place. For me it is a simpler time. Everything seemed brighter and tasted a bit sweeter. That is the way memories work. We tend to forget the difficult days. And if we don’t forget them, somehow they were transformed into not-so-bad days in our minds.
Any song off of A Charlie Brown’s Christmas will get me nostalgic instantly. There’s just something about those piano scores mixed with Linus saying, “that’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.”
I feel like our Christianity tends to operate in the same way. Everything used to be magical. I hear people say, “remember how exciting it once was?” And they aren’t wrong. Just like these Christmas songs reminding us of the wonderful yesteryears, there is something special about how our walk with Christ all began. It was fun and exciting. God did move in amazing ways. Prayer times at the altar seemed to be more special, and God’s voice seemed much clearer.
It is good for us to remember and look back. We can’t live there anymore, but we certainly don’t have to forget it all. Even in the letter to the church in Ephesus, Jesus said, “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!” God is telling us to take cues from what once was so we can create new memories from what will be.
This can be difficult to do. We lose heart, life happens, and 2020 hits us hard. But, in everything that happens and in all the ups and downs that we experience, let us not forget that salvation is and will always be the greatest miracle. David went through some major changes in life. Some because of circumstances and others of his own doing. He wrote Psalm 51 and asked God to restore to him the joy of salvation.
At this time of year, while listening to music that brings us back to some wonderful childhood memory, we need to ask for the same thing that David did. Let’s not forget to look back to where this all started. We must remember the reason we celebrate this time of year to begin with. It all started with a baby in a manger. C. S. Lewis said, “Once in our world, a stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world.” Jesus. He is our hope and our joy.
Let’s finish off what has been a crazy year, by celebrating and remembering all that Christ has done for us!