I love this comic for two reasons…One because I have worked for companies that scheduled the “Holiday Party” in January to save some money…(kind of defeats the purpose)…and the other because it opens today’s “Reason for the Season” with reminding us of the “stuff” that has to be done. In yesterdays ★ Day 16 – Reason for the Season – Gifts from the Heart ★ we explored how to break the spirit of greed and materialism and adopt a new mindset focused on Jesus and others. To close out that “Reason for the Season,” and transition for today’s, here is a powerful insight from David Jeremiah,
I pray as the Advent Season has been a time for reflection and renewal in how you view the 25 days leading up to Christmas. I know that today’s title has probably tipped my hand in where this is going, but before that, let’s talk about all the great things about this time of year. Prior to going artificial, finding a Christmas tree and the decorating process has always been a sweet time of connection with our family as we reminisced over the various ornaments from different years and seeing old photographs in some of them. Back when we lived in the northeast, I loved going ice-skating at Rockefeller Center, though if you were on the ice at the same time, you would need to keep a wide berth from me as I am an unstable skater! Christmas Caroling, great food, and of course presents come to my mind as well! There is a magical feeling of good will and compassion for one another…It’s the most wonderful time of year! But as my uncle once told me, “there is a flip side to everything.” Amidst all the merrymaking…comes the crowded malls, endless list of presents to purchase, lights to be strung up on the house, Christmas cards to address and get out in time, and of course the resulting credit card bills after Christmas. There is even a Christmas Carol Parody by Bob Rivers about the flip side of Christmas called the “12 Pains of Christmas.” Growing up it was one of my favorites. It’s easy to lose yourself in all the chaos of the things that have to get done.
My wife sent this comic to me and it just cracked me up!
Even if you are not a fan of the most epic, awesome and mind-blowing space odyssey ever conceived and executed on the silver screen, you are well away of the much-anticipated Star
Wars Episode VII, The Force Awakens that released last night! A good friend of mine has been sending me countdowns to when we are hitting the theaters with the kids to see it! As you can imagine, this has had my attention but the only think that can rival Disney’s endless marketing, is the incessant barrage from retailers trying to create a panic…”Time is running out”…”Act now before it’s too late”…”Only 7 days left until Christmas”…and so on.
So how has your Christmas season been going? Have you been feeling pressured as the “To-Do” lists grow, and your schedules is jam-packed? It’s no surprise that people get stressed out with so much to accomplish. When you stop and think about it though, everything we consume ourselves with, is intended to make the most of this special time but it can end up leaving us drained and stressed to the hilt resulting in the opposite desired outcome. Whether it be because of procrastination or truly too much to accomplish, I believe a lot of the craze is a result of not building in enough margin in our life…enough time to shop, enough time to drive from point A to point B, enough down time, and ultimately enough sleep…We are consumed with busyness and if we are not careful, the hustle and bustle, will cause to miss the “Reason for the Season”…the remembrance of the birth of Jesus…and ultimately steal our joy away from this wonderful time of year! But there is hope; if we could get our priorities straight we can have peace even with the lists. I read this article from Billy Graham, “Make room for Jesus as you observe Christmas,” and this point really got to me about how are priorities…
“must bring great sadness to God to see the way we’ve treated His Son – not just at Christmas, but every day of the year. The problem isn’t just that we’ve become preoccupied with material things…Nor is it only because Christ today is banned from our public celebrations of Christmas…The real problem is within our souls…Tragically, we still have no room for Jesus in our lives.”
If the whirlwind of “things to do” that I have been talking about describes how you typically experience this season, I want to encourage you to not let this year go by the same way. You can have peace…Day 8 of the of 121 Advent Bible Plan gives us some motivation too…
“When we live in peace, God is glorified because He is the God of peace. We reflect Him through peace, but we also receive lives of good, of flourishing. This is why peace matters!”
Christmas can be a great opportunity to reflect on what God has done for you, and all the blessings in your life…which I hope the past 17 days have helped you along the path. Henri Nouwen Defined Christmas this way,
“Songs, good feelings, beautiful liturgies, nice presents, big dinners, and sweet words do not make Christmas.
Christmas is saying yes to something beyond all emotions and feelings.
Christmas is saying yes to a hope based on God’s initiative, which has nothing to do with what I think or feel.
Christmas is believing that the salvation of the world is God’s work and not mine.”
Christmas is saying yes Jesus and following His example. He was the ultimate example for TRUE HUMILITY. During this time I like to take stock in how I am measuring up, to become more humble and less self-absorbed. I would like to say I am further along but I have blown it many times. I love this definition from John Maxwell on what Humility…
“Humility is a true recognition of our strengths and our weaknesses and then a willingness to be secure enough to admit our weaknesses and allow other people to come alongside of us. Because a humble person is one, who seeks other people’s advice, their help, asks questions and understands as my friend John Wooden one time said, ‘It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.’”
Humility is about recognizing our own short comings and allow yourself to be molded by others. It is also about being that for someone else, and not miss an opportunity to make an impact those around you because you are consumed with getting stuff done. So with humble mindset, here is a fresh way to look at the “To-Do” List…Let’s push aside all the distractions and this year let’s commit to:
- Be Present
– Let’s put down the iPad or smartphone and really engage with those in front of us.
- Wrap Someone in a Hug
– Let’s look for an opportunity to show the love of Christ to someone in need.
- Send Peace
– It used to be a letter, but you can always send a text, Facebook message or email to someone you haven’t talked with in a while to let them know you care.
- Donate Food
– Find a food pantry to serve at or help to feed those less fortunate. There is a great opportunity on tomorrow in Dallas if you are free…click here for more information.
- Make Love (…keep it G-Rated)
– The Bible says in John 3:16 (NIV)…
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Be the hands and feet of God where you live, work and play. I will take a moment to share something very special that my 12-year old daughter made this for me last weekend for breakfast that made my day! I share this to inspire you to find some way big or small to bring some love into the people’s lives around you!
- Be the Light
– There is such negativity in the world…a pervasive atmosphere of hopelessness, pessimism, skepticism, abounds and I believe that is a result of a lack of people who genuinely care for anyone other than themselves. Martin Luther King, Jr. said,
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Be the light that drives out the darkness! In Matthew 5:14, 16 (NKJV), Jesus said, How different would this world be if this list was the kind of busyness we were consumed with?? How different would we be if we did approach it that way? And the great thing is, you can start today and if you continue, there is a bonus for you…You will feel less stressed and depressed. Mark Twain gives us some great advice…
“The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer everybody else up.”
I saw this happen in my life just two weeks ago when my oldest daughter had a piano recital at a local Assisted Living Facility. I love to watch her play piano but if I am being honest with you, the timing was terrible. It was at 2 pm on a Saturday and my “to do list” for that day was packed…But as I watched the residents slowly enter the lobby with canes, walkers, and wheelchairs, I felt God move in my heart and gently show me how much I had to be grateful for. It also reminded me of my mother who since having a stroke now lives in a similar facility. As the recital went on and I surveyed the room of over 30 residents in attendance, it was incredible the joy these“young Mozarts” brought to the residents who probably don’t have many visitors. This woman in particular got my attention because she put her hand out after each performance to “high five” the child to encourage them that they did great! You can see the beaming look in her face, she was being the light. As I soaked in that moment, my “to do list” that was so important just an hour earlier was now gone from my mind and I felt so strongly…This is what Christmas is all about! Being the light to those around me is all that matters! When the recital concluded, the children were blessed with this special Paint Brush Gift that the Residents made for them to say thank you!
You may have noticed that this post came a day late and I do apologize for that! I too was consumed with busyness but for a wonderful reason…Tonight we are doing a presentation for my in-law’s 50th Wedding Anniversary and I was in charge of the PowerPoint that took longer than expected…Hahahah! Though we missed a day, we will still post 25 Days of Thankfulness, we just run through December 26. I will close with this question, how do keep Christmas in your heart and not be consumed with busyness? Steve Maraboli will help us with that answer…
Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.”
Here is a link to a very cool modern interpretation of the historical events surrounding Jesus’ birth and how it might have been had a social network existed at that time.
I leave you with this blessing from Philippians 1:2 (ESV)
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
If you would like to see the next installment of our “25 Days of Thankfulness” series go here…★ Day 18 – Reason for the Season – Jesus Is _____ ★
Or you can start from the beginning by ★ Clicking Here ★