He was born to die.
A morbid way to start Christmas, I know. Think of it though. We say we are born for a purpose. A task to fulfill, a moment to conquer, a place to succeed. We were born to live for something because He was born to die.
He is our antithesis. An opposite as any could be. God of the universe, and we are mere mortals. Through Him everything was made, and we can’t see to keep anything in our lives together. He knew our hurt, pain, struggle, disappointment and failures. Too many failures to count. This is why He became a Man of Sorrows. So we could be people of joy!
And so, heaven invaded earth. The Savior came to serve. God bent down to listen. And because of that, we have life. Not survival, but purpose. Life to the full! And all of it at Christ’s expense. Christ the newborn king.
As much as the world was unaware of a babe in a lowly manger, I pray that you might be caught unaware by the grace of an extravagant love. When you deserve it the least, I pray that He shows you His love the most. He came for no other purpose.
This is Christmas. God’s greatest gift to mankind, not put under a tree but rather on a tree. A Man of Sorrows bringing Joy to the World!
There are not enough days in December. Period. Anyone else agree?! We try to cram so much into a month that already has shortened days! I have a solution though. Six months out of the year have 31 days in them, one of them being December. Take one day from the other five (January, May, July, August, and October) and put them in December. If February can have a random 28 days then surely we could give December 36! All in favor say “I.”
So maybe we can’t add more days, but we can add more intentionality. And not just in December, but throughout the year. “Success requires a decision, failure merely requires your permission.” This is said often by my lead Pastor, Tom Lindberg.
To remedy this, last year I decided to start a new, but old tradition in my home: The 25 Days of Christmas. This is something my father implemented when I was a kid, and I wanted my kids to experience the same thing. Everyday, starting on December 1st, our kids open a letter that has some form of activity on it for us to do. It may be as simple as watching a Christmas movie together. The activity is not as important as the purpose, to intentionally spend time together as a family celebrating Christmas. From Christmas Bingo to cutting out snowflakes, we have had a great time together.
It may not sound like slowing down to you, but I know myself. I waste a lot of time everyday and in turn, every week. I waste it on unimportant things like checking Facebook, resetting a fantasy football roster on a team in last place, and the list goes on! This month, I took that time and invested it else where, and the dividends have paid off tremendously.
So we can’t add days to December, but we can make the most of the days we do have. Ephesians 5 tells us to “be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.” This pleases God. Vision pleases God. Purpose pleases God. Laziness, does not please God.
Don’t complain about the time you don’t have, do something with the time you do have.
Here was our 25 Days of Christmas if you were wondering:
Dec 1 - Christmas Movie
Dec 2 - Go to Nana and Papas
Dec 3 - Christmas Cookies Part 1
Dec 4 - A Christmas Minute
Dec 5 - Left and Right
Dec 6 - St. Nicholas Day
Dec 7 - Hot Chocolate Bar
Dec 8 - Dinner and a Movie
Dec 9 - Neighborly Love
Dec 10 - Christmas Letter
Dec 11 - Gingerbread Houses
Dec 12 - Holiday Bingo
Dec 13 - Crazy Christmas Dinner
Dec 14 - Zoo Lights
Dec 15 - Christmas Breakfast
Dec 16 - Snowflake Competition
Dec 17 - The Minivan Express
Dec 18 - Feliz Navidad
Dec 19 - Christmas Party
Dec 20 - Over the River
Dec 21 - Christmas Cookies Part 2
Dec 22 - Christmas With Grandparents
Dec 23 - Santa Shakes
Dec 24 - Pizza by Candlelight
Dec 25 - Christmas
There are only a few more days until Christmas, if you can believe it! I feel it is going way too fast. My kids on the other hand, they are anxious and frustrated at how slow each and every day is going! If I'm not mistaken, since December 1st, we haven't had a day go by that they haven't asked to open a present early. No. The answer is always no! I had to wait patiently as a kid, and now it is your turn. That is only fair, right?!
This is one of the hardest things for our culture to put a handle on. Everything we invent and create is to make our life easier and more efficient. From the microwave to fast-food drive thru, we want our food now! I was on a trip to the Memphis Zoo with my wife and three kids. We decided to stop at a McDonalds on the way there because of all the healthy option they have to choose from! I personally do not like the drive-thru. The mysterious person on the other end of the speaker expects me to have an order ready when I get to the screen. I have not even had a chance to look at the menu, and I certainly do not like ordering the same thing at every meal. So the impatience begins. They want my order now! In the same fashion, by the time I drive from the order menu to the pick-up window, made 25 feet away, I expect my food to be made-to-oder, fresh and ready! This time though, we received everything except my wife's grilled chicken wrap. They asked us to pull forward, something we may all be familiar with, most likely so they don't have to look at or hear our impatient pleas that they are not doing a good enough job. We wait in the car for all of two minutes, which feels like twenty, and I decide I better go inside and let them know we are still here, still alive, and still in need of sustenance! Years go by and we finally get our order. And since I went out of my way to tell them what a "wonderful job" they were doing, by asking them why they were not faster, they have each of us a chocolate chip cookie. Well worth the wait! You get the point?! We hate waiting. Here are a few thoughts I have that could help us enjoy the wait.
Wait Time is Not Waste Time
My pastor says this a lot in terms of waiting in God's presence. Isaiah 40:31 says, "Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary they shall walk and not faint." I believe this concept to be true in more areas than this one too. Rarely do I ever say, "If only I had been more impatient in this matter!" On the other hand, more times than I can count I have said, "If only I had waited a little longer." With the exception of a doctor's office, "wait time is not waste time!" This leads me to my second thought.
Build in 'Selah' Moments
You are reading through the Psalms and come across this word 'Selah' in the middle or end of a chapter. It is a place for us to pause, reflect, and think about what we just read. We need these moments in life as well. See where you have been. Ask yourself if you like where you are going? We all need a moment to self-asses, or take inventory of our lives. Do I need to make a mid-course correction? Or maybe it is simply to stop and appreciate where you are at the moment. I have to force myself to do this often, or my kids grow up too fast. You blink and wonder where the time has gone?! My last thought is more of a question to ask than a statement.
What is Impatience Costing You?
I think often of Saul, the first king of Israel. In 1 Samuel 10, Samuel asks Saul to wait seven days for his return before he is anointed king. Saul patiently waits the full time and God honors him. Only three chapters later in 1 Samuel 13, we see Samuel ask Saul to do the same thing. Wait seven days for me to come so we can make a sacrifice. This time however, Saul is in a hurry, scared he might lose men and morale, so he does not wait. His impatience cost him the kingdom. What could it cost you?
- A healthy marriage
You can add things to this list in your life. May we, during this Christmas season, try our best to slow down and remember what God did for us?! Let us enjoy time with family and friends, and not worry so much about the small details. Learn to enjoy the wait!
Santa. Reindeer. Cookies and Hot Chocolate. Christmas Trees. Presents. Yuletide carols being sung by a choir. And all of it bowing down to baby Jesus in a manger. Surrounded by wise man and shepherds, Mary and Joseph, and the angels singing on high.
This is Christmas. It is absolutely, without a doubt my favorite time of the year! There is something heartwarming and nostalgic about this time that strikes a chord with me. I love it!
This season is not this way for so many. For some reason, the broken-hearted have been on my mind more than usual, as we draw closer to our beloved day.
Perhaps it started at a Fall Retreat, praying for middle school students who were “not looking forward to the holidays” because of family struggles. Maybe it was the numerous grandparents I have prayed for that want salvation for their kids and grandkids. I’m sure it is also a school principal who stands before a congregation with tears in his eyes, saying he would give every dime he has to have a cure for cancer as his wife fights day by day with this horrible sickness. Likely, it is all of the above, and I could surely continue.
It begs the deeper question in my heart: how many have I walked by without taking notice of the hurt and heartache? Thank God we have a blessed hope in a Savior that walks through the trials of life with us. What of those that don’t know Him? What hope do they have?
Jesus came to give that hope! He came to give life to the lifeless. Joy to the depressed. Strength to the weak. But we are to be His hands and feet. Let us not forget our part of the equation this season.
He is so much more than a baby in a manger. So much more than a reason to shower gifts on one another. Definitely more than an excuse to gain a few holiday pounds. Let’s love big this holiday season, sing loud, pray hard, and serve well.
If Jesus truly is Immanuel, God with us, then let us bring that Joy to the World!