★ Day 17 – Reason for the Season – Consumed with Busyness ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness 1

17 - Daily Dependence - Dilbert - Christmas PartyI 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,
17 - Daily Dependence - Consumed with BusynessI 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 17 - Daily Dependence - Flipsidewere 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!

17 - Daily Dependence - Countdown to Star WarsEven 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 countdowns17 - Star Wars Countdown 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.  17 - Daily Dependence - Billy Graham - Make Room for JesusI 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:17 - Daily Dependence - Christmas List

  1. Be Present
    – Let’s put down the iPad or smartphone and really engage with those in front of us.
  2. Wrap Someone in a Hug
    – Let’s look for an opportunity to show the love of Christ to someone in need.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.”

17 - Daily Dependence - Doing for OthersBe 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!

  1. 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, 17 - Matthew 5-14_16 - Let Your Light ShineHow 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.  17 - Daily Dependence - Playing Piano for People in an Assited LivingThis 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!  17 - Daily Dependence - Paint brush Gift from the ResidentsWhen 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…

17 - Daily Dependnece - Steve Maraboli - Keep Christ in Christmas“Want to Keep Christ in Christmas?

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.

A Social Network Christmas

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 ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness

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★ Thought for the Day – Christmas or X-Mas? ★ 

63 - Daily Dependence - Chirstmas or X-MasLast night we were watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, which today is still my favorite cartoon to watch!  It is amazing to me that back in 1965, when this first aired, how much materialism that Charlie Brown saw amongst everyone during the Christmas season.  It was so pervasive that if you remember, even the Christmas trees he picked out did not meet the standard.  What is shocking to me, 49 years later, the same spirit of consumerism prevails.  I wonder though, what the cartoon would be like if it was re-done today??

My favorite part has always been Linus’ citation of what the real meaning of Christmas is.

So we know where Linus stands…what do you think Christmas is all about?  I am sure by the title of this Thought for the Day, you probably have an inkling to what direction this will be going in, but I pray that though you may know what the answer is, that the Holy Spirit will make the truth penetrate your heart…And that this Christmas season will be more meaningful than it ever has been in the past.

Hypothetically speaking…if an alien just landed on Earth and saw the yuletide craziness in Wal-Mart, or constant the barrage of an advertising through TV, emails and old fashion mailings, what do you think they would believe that Christmas is all about?  I think definitely about shopping, a fat man in a red suit, and about putting trees in your house and decorating them.

It is not too hard to get lost in the “stuff that needs to get done,” and fulfilling “wish lists,” but if we are not careful, we can easily get one-off track.  Christmas should not be about getting stuff.  There needs to be an intensive effort on our part to combat against the “get me this bug,” and try to reverse the impact of the heavy marketing that is confusing the meaning of Christmas.  Don’t get me wrong, I want my children to enjoy all the fun things of the season, but at the same time I don’t want the true meaning of Christmas to be lost on my daughters.  Take a look at this cartoon, I think it makes Charlie Brown’s point well!  63 - Daily Dependence - Tree Comic

“I hate to ask you nice folks to move, but the inn’s marketing department figures that it will only be a matter of time before this tree gets better recognition than your son”

So how about it?  What do you think, is it Christmas or X-mas?  Does it matter?  Do you see a difference between the two?  For many years I didn’t.  In fact I still have storage totes with “X-mas” written on them.  Have you ever wondered where X-mas came from?  I mean how did that evolve to be an abbreviation for Christmas?63 - Daily Dependence - Evolution of X-mas

Well the word “Christmas means the “Mass of Christ.”  It was later shortened to “Christ-Mass.” Then further shortened during the 1500’s in Europe to “X-mas” which is derived from the Greek alphabet, in which X is the first letter of Christ’s name: “Xristos,” therefore “X-Mass”.  That is how X-mas is a derivative for Christmas.  But in today’s culture and how the term is used, I believe there is a big difference between the two words.  X-mas is no longer a short version of Christmas but a replacement.  You don’t have to look far, to see how modern-day consumerism and marketers have completely “X”-ed Christ out of Christmas.

Christmas is now a franchise, a holiday that is marketed in a million different ways, none of which have to do with Jesus.  Just take notice of all the printed advertising and commercials that are on TV this time of year.  There is very little mention of Jesus if any.  We have removed the part of the holiday that is the true “reason for the season”.  And all that we are left with is whatever products store owner’s can convince us that we need to have.

Christmas is not about getting stuff but about Jesus.  It is the Birthday of Jesus, the day that God was manifested into flesh and blood.  It is about a King.  Not a King that rode into battle to conquer his enemies but a King who laid down His crown, humbling Himself to become a man. 63 - Daily Dependence - King Size BedIn doing so, He surrendered His majesty and position and sacrificed Himself for us.  So the answer to the question “what is Christmas all about”, well it is about SACRIFICE and HUMILITY!  You don’t really consider that when you think about Christmas, but when you look at what had to happen in order for Jesus to open the gates of heaven for us, it is crystal clear that the baby in the manger was born to be the sacrificial lamb to die as the payment for our sins once and for all.  W.J. Cameron once said that,

“There has been only one Christmas – the rest are anniversaries.”

I love that!   Jesus became human and then gave up His life for us so that we could gain eternal life.  He had to lose His life so we could keep ours!  Through His Sacrifice, out past, present and future sins are forgiven!  And we are Redeemed!  Redemption, what an awesome word.  It is defined as

“The act of delivering from sin or saving from evil” or “Purchasing back something previously sold.”

We have been delivered through His death on the cross.  The greatest gift will not be delivered by the man in the red suit, the best gift is Jesus!  Jesus63 - Daily Dependence - The Real Gift paid the ransom, paid the price for our sins to save us from the evil one so that the lost could be found, the sick…healed, the broken…repaired and the captives set free.  Because Jesus came into the enemy’s territory (by coming to Earth), we are redeemed and reconnected to our Father in Heaven.  We are the children of God as it says in Galatians 4:6-7:

“Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”  So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.    

Christmas is about the sacrifice of Jesus and the redemption that resulted from His selfless act.  And through it all we have become heirs to the riches of heaven.

You know, there is nothing wrong with all the holiday preparations, but we need to keep in focus what we are celebrating on December 25!  Our Biblical or Christian Worldview needs a little fine-tuning.  Like everyone else, I have a long list of things-to-do associated with the Yuletide season, from decorating to getting a Christmas tree to shopping for gifts.  There are many things to plan for and to pull you in different directions and to distract you…BUT I love how Henri Nouwen defined Christmas…he said that

“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 my favorite holiday.  Not only for the significance of Jesus’ birth but also for the other stuff as well.  I love all the holiday preparations and the warm fuzzy feeling you get during this time of year.  But as we just read, Christmas is much more than that.  We need to check ourselves and where our biblical worldview is, not only in regards to this one day but also for the other 364 days a year.  So the proper biblical worldview of Christmas is all about Sacrifice and Humility!  Philippians 2:5-7 says that:

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” 

Christmas is a time to remember the birth of Jesus and the coming of God’s salvation for His people.  Jesus was born and walked on this Earth to show us the way to heaven through His example.

“He became what we are that He might make us what He is.”  Saint Athanasius

 Verse 8 of chapter 2 of Philippians finishes this though with:

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!”

So I want to challenge you to really understand the Reason for the Season, and not allow consumerism to “X” Christ out of Christmas.  Follow Jesus’ example, and be a servant to your “fellow man.”  Look for ways to impact the people around you…family members, co-workers, friends or even strangers.  Serve food to the homeless or buy a present for a child who will have nothing under the tree this year or be a shoulder to cry on for a depressed friend.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6:9

Don’t let season passed by without letting it penetrate your heart!  Be Jesus for the people who are around you.  Be the miracle in their life.

63 - Daily Dependence - Merry Christmas