Making Preparations

Last weekend, I had the privilege of speaking at a church in the Daytona Beach area. At the front of the meeting room they had the four candles of advent. Advent means “coming” and each week reflects on and builds anticipation for the one those who follow Jesus are waiting for. Together we lit the candle for the second week – the week that focuses on preparation. Christmas is the perfect season for evaluating our lives in Christ. As the world bustles along putting their hope in external things such as gifts and family and parties, we can gauge if we are hoping in anything different or not. So in this week of preparation, here are some questions to consider… For whom are you preparing? Isaiah 9:6 gives all of us a picture of the One we are preparing for… For to us a child is born,     to us a son is given,     and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called     Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,     Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Our tendency is to focus on the child being born. Baby Jesus in the manger. This is important, of course, and is the physical sign of God’s love for us and the vulnerability and humility He demonstrated in the great lengths gone to in order to come to us. But that is not where Jesus remained. This child is also a son – a term tapping into his royalty. This baby is meant to be king. The clear picture of this son is given by his throne names: Wonderful Counselor – this king is going to be a...

Remember to Make Room

You have probably noticed that Christmas is hurtling towards us. I’m probably safe in assuming that you feel it coming in the level of your busyness and the feeling that there is “so much left to do.” Shopping needs to be finished. Parties need to be attended. Cooking needs to be done. All the while, you still have to do you normal work. If you are one of the church leaders who read this, your stress is augmented by the preparation for the loads of extra people you expect at church. (Or maybe you are depressed because the crowds no longer come.) In all of this remember on thing. It is THE one thing. Remember to make room for Jesus. Maybe you need to – right now – close your eyes and take five minutes of quiet to listen for God’s voice in your chaos. (Don’t worry, you CAN afford five minutes.) Maybe you need to read a passage of the Bible independent of preparations for a message or study. Maybe you need to gather your family or friends together to read the Christmas story and express thanks. Make space for Him. Don’t stumble over the trappings of the holiday. Think about the Christmas story in Luke. Jesus was born into a world that struggled to make space for Him. Those who had eyes to see dropped everything. My prayer for you in the next week is that you will be one of those. How much space are you making for Christ in the midst of your holiday preparations? What one change will you commit to making right now?...

Keeping Christ in Christmas

I have to confess to you that I have a little pet peeve regarding the “Keep Christ in Christmas” bumper stickers, church signs, and car magnets that seem to pop up this time of year. Of course, they are a reaction to our culture’s growing tendency to refer to this as the holiday season. Boldly I say, count me as one follower of Christ who fully supports this cultural trend. First, it IS the season of holidays. There’s Thanksgiving. And Hanukkah. Ramadan. Kwanzaa, the New Year. Probably others of which I’m not aware. It seems the height of Christian arrogance to make everyone use our name for a certain time of the year. It dismisses others’ points of view. Whether or not we agree with their belief system, diminishing their traditions does not put us in their good graces to have an open discussion about Christ. It creates defensiveness; an us-against-them which closes people off. More importantly (in my estimation), do we really want the name Christmas associated with the consumerism and commercialism that runs rampant in our culture and amps up at this time of the year? Short answer: No. No, I don’t. So if Wal-mart wants to call it a “Holiday Sale”, Starbucks wants to put coffee in plain red cups, Best Buy wants to have a giant “Happy Holidays” sign on the front of the store, or the mall wants to promote “Winter Savings”, they can do it with my blessing. I am totally on board with that. In fact, I view it as a favor. One less battle I have to fight with those who argue Christmas is nothing more than...

Gain Perspective. Live Well.

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