The week between Christmas & New Year’s feels like a “not ready” week, maybe because of all the festivities, bustle & frenzy leading up to Christmas, . . . . . And then we pause 🙂
And for such a pause, I’m abundantly grateful. I don’t have to get ready for anything – no dinner guests, no events, no sermons, no parties, no gift wrapping or last minute presents to buy. In this week, it’s ok to be “not ready.” So I appreciate the opportunity to lounge in pjs, take time for reflection, watch birds and squirrels eat berries off the tree outside my window, get my vacuum into the shop for a much needed tune-up, sleep in a little bit and be entirely comfortable with being “not ready.”
Maybe this idea goes back to the concept of Sabbath, when we pause from our work and take a day of rest. I sincerely believe that such a pause is an essential ingredient for growing in our intimacy with God 🙂
In that today is Christmas Eve, or maybe Christmas when you read this, we might be thinking about Jesus’ birth 🙂
And in the story of Jesus coming to live among us, there are some interesting things we can consider for our daily living.
*Unexpected Coincidence: the shepherds in the field were doing a normal night of shepherding when there was a supernatural interruption. Let’s be mindful that a supernatural interruption can sometimes be dismissed as an unexpected coincidence, causing us to miss something God wants us to know or experience
*Inconvenient Journey: the wiseman took the Star as a signal to go on a journey to seek out something unknown but important. Let’s be mindful that what could be inconvenient and unfamiliar has the potential to lead us to know Jesus more deeply and in a richer experience.
*Unconventional Relationship: Joseph decided to keep Mary as his fiancé even though she was pregnant out of wedlock. Let’s be mindful that being merciful, gracious and generous can position us to bring Jesus to people in meaningful and life-giving experiences.
Let’s keep finding Jesus and helping others experience genuine love through finding Jesus!
The past is a really interesting thing to consider. Like me, you likely have some very fond memories as well as some experiences that you’d rather forget. And today is a new day, with new mercies, new experiences, new people, new minutes, new activities, new adventures, . . . . lots of new for new days!
And may we never forget that God’s mercies are new every morning because the faithfulness of God is infinite. Let’s allow each day to be new & have a fresh start. Yesterday is over & today is a new day 🙂
“That’s not what I said.” A lot of times when I listen to someone talk, I have to realize that I don’t always hear what’s being said. And I don’t hear what’s actually being said because of my own perspectives / filters that obscure what is said. Consider that the religious leaders in Jesus’ day couldn’t hear His words because of their own filters. They were concerned about their position & power more than hearing Jesus’ truth & genuine love.
With this reality, we would be wise to consider what may be our filters. Here are some examples for your consideration:
Fear: failing & bad experiences can skew our ability to hear stuff clearly
Scarcity: lack skews our ability to hear clearly
Shame / Embarrassment: when something has terribly wrong in our lives we can easily feel shame
Jesus tells us to be careful what we hear & we would be wise to consider what filters we might have that could be muddling what we hear!
Conditioning has lots of different usages such as: air conditioning, conditioning for health purposes and conditioning to acclimate to various climates or humidities, to name a few. But I think we should also consider that we have been conditioned through the human experience to think of love in very transactional ways. In our childhood, it’s likely that you received positive affirmation for good behavior & achievements and negative feedback for things you did that weren’t so whippy. Maybe such inputs have shaped your perceptions of what love is & is not. While cause and affect are definitely part of the human experience, I think we should sit and think about God’s “unconditional” love for us.
There’s a good possibility that we both struggle to receive and sit in unconditional love, given the conditioning we have lived in through human transactions. Let’s take some time this weekend to reflect on God’s unconditional love for us, appreciating that this genuine love can never be increased or decreased by our behaviors 🙂
Recently, I went snowboarding with the men in my family and had a wonderful time, minus the crowded lift lines. The sun was out, snow was pretty good, it wasn’t too cold and I stayed warm throughout the day (except for getting some snow down my pants). The toxic desire part, however, happens for me when I want to keep the same speed as my teenage sons. They have been skiing for more than ten years and they’re very proficient and fast. The problem is that I also like to go really fastand watching them jet ahead of me, is like throwing down the gauntlet with an irresistable challenge. But alas, from innumerable injuries that need no details here, I’ve concluded that snowboarding as fast as my teenage sons isn’t good for my health, regardless of what I want.
So let’s remember that not all of our desires come from God (Ps 37:4) and let’s stay mindful not to allow the toxic desires to override common sense and obedience to God’s Word 🙂
It’s defintely true that I can struggle with the right spelling of words from time to time. But in this situation, the title for my blog isn’t a misspelling. Instead, it’s an intentional play on words to catch your attention & maybe challenge you to some ongoing generosity with Jesus.
How so? What Jesus likes more than your words, money, service, clothing, church attendance, etc. is your self. When we give all of ourselves to Jesus, it seems to me that this gives Jesus the greatest pleasure! So here are some wrapping ideas for your presence with Jesus:
time: we can give Jesus time in all kinds of ways – as we drive, in those unexpected moments of pause with a cancelled appointment and in the morning / night to be present
words: it’s always good to give thanks to Jesus (for daily things, miracles, unexpected blessings, rich conversations, etc ), as well as some worship for who Jesus is
attention: let’s ask the Holy Spirit to increase our awareness of Jesus’ presence, since He said He’d never leave nor forsake us. I ask, throughout the day, for help with my focus and attention to sense Jesus
Be sure to wrap your presence with time, words and attention, to give your self wholly to Jesus!
Wrapping Christmas presents isn’t in my top 5 thrilling adventures. So I’m a late wrapper. In addition to being a late wrapper, I’m also not a very good wrapper. I have the “get ‘er Done” mindset. But lest we miss the whole point, keep in mind that we’re endeavoring to express genuine love & generosity, regardless of the wrapping or when we wrap our presents
I’d propose that our Heavenly Father wants to let us a know a few things this Christmas to reinforce His genuine love & generosity to us:
Wrapping: Jesus, the Fathers ultimate gift to us, came wrapped in human garb, as a newborn
Timing: Paul says that in the fullness of time, Jesus became flesh to live among us. God’s timing is perfect!
Spectacular: despite being wrapped in human garb, Jesus’ arrival was announced with splendor, grandiose display & jubilant celebration.
It’s ok if you’re a late wrapper, a crummy wrapper or if you’re a timely & spectacular wrapper! No matter what, let’s keep genuine love & generosity our primary goal!
Ravens, brooks & widows. These were three ways God provided for the needs that Elijah had. After reading about these resources this morning, it struck me about how creatively God works to meet & resolve the needs in our lives.
Let’s be wise stewards with the resources that we have while appreciating that God has some very creative & interesting ways to meet the needs that exceed our current provisions. And above all, let’s continue to remain grateful because God is always faithful!
There’s lots of fun information, websites & youtube videos on how to do stuff. Indeed, one of my children considered themselves to be an expert with turkey brining having watched a few instructional videos on youtube. Alas, this child’s turkey brining efforts were less than expert on their first effort, even though this child was highly convinced about their proficiency. They made it abundantly clear that my help wasn’t needed nor appreciated – until the disaster was in full execution mode.
This is also what I sense the Holy Spirit telling me. Rather than trying to Do It Myself (DIM), it would be a brighter decision to ask for Divine Help. This means I’m deciding to be open for the Holy Spirit to be my Help, Guide, Truth, Wisdom, Strength, Comfort, . . . .
Do you have people for whom it’s very difficult to buy gifts? What do you get the person who has everything? Or even more importantly, what do we give Jesus in this Christmas season?
Here are a few ideas:
Presents – the Wise Men brought Jesus gold, frankincense & myrrh, gifts befitting a King, from the resources they had. Let’s be generous with our resources!
Fame – the shepherds, upon finding Jesus lying in a manger, went out & spread the news about His birth & heavens announcement to them via the angles. Let’s be committed to promoting Jesus more than anything or anyone else!
Presence – never diminish the truth that Jesus enjoys your company, so don’t overlook the pauses & moments throughout this season to give your attention & your self to Jesus 🙂
We all lose things: car keys, sock mates, computer files, credit cards, water bottles, etc. So how does a parent lose a child? That’s exactly what happened to Joseph & Mary when Jesus was 12 y/o, st the annual festival they attended in Jerusalem. His parents thought that Jesus was with the caravan returning to their village, so they didn’t look for Him nor worry about Him until a day had passed. When they began looking for Him, He wasn’t with everyone, so Joseph & Mary made their way back to Jerusalem to find Jesus.
Similar to Jesus’ parents, we can sometimes lose Jesus in the festivities & hubbub of the Christmas celebrations. So let’s be committed to keep a continual lookout for Jesus throughout each day of this Christmas season, watching for opportunities to be kind, loving generous & Christlike. Indeed, some of the best ways to experience Jesus is to spread His love in our daily living!
A few years ago, there were some cute movies, Finding Nemo & Finding Dory. Each movie was about the long search to find a missing son & a beloved friend. When I think about finding Jesus, I’m encouraged that Jesus is accessible throughout every day! Check out this video:
Now that Thanksgiving is in the rear view mirror, Christmas is ready to take center stage. And with Christmas , come all the associated activities: decorating, parties, concerts, shopping, cookies, wrapping, etc. In the midst of the hub bub, let’s keep our hearts & focus attentive to Jesus. He’s a really quick video that could help you keep your focus on Jesus throughout this holiday season:
Hard circumstances, unknown terrain, impossible journeys – these are all things in which God specializes. As you read this, maybe you’re in a financial crisis & Christmas looks impossible; maybe you’ve received a medical report that’s disturbing; maybe you have some toxic relational challenges that seem to be never ending; maybe you’re discouraged or depressed; maybe you have some work or school difficulties that are bigger than your abilities, time or energy.
Be encouraged today, that God can make a way when there seems to be no way. Remind yourself of how God delivered the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt:
providing a leader, Moses, who was educated & committed to their freedom
supernatural signs & wonders (10 Plagues) to break the slavery bondage
Passover to establish the relationship between God & the nation of Israel
plundering the Egyptians when the Israelites walked out of Egypt
split the Red Sea & drowning the enemies who were intent on dragging the Israelites back into slavery
God did lots more when He liberated the Israelites, so be encouraged that you’re not in a situation that exceeds God’s ability to transform nor redeem! Feel free to share this with your friends to encouage them as well!
I seriously want your feedback!! Every Christmas season, I do a blog series about looking for Jesus & I post goofy pictures of baby Jesus in various settings, to reinforce the reminder to look for Jesus in the busy-ness of the Holidays.
So where would you like to see Jesus in the upcoming Holidays? Please give me your suggestions in the comments below, on FB, twitter, etc. Last year, I took Jesus to the ICU at a local hospital, He drove with me in my car (Jesus take the wheel), I perched Him on a park bench & did lots of other creative things. So what would you suggest for me to do this year, in the theme of looking for Jesus?
This is a picture of South Park in Colorado. My son & I are grabbing a day over Christmas break to get some skiing / snowboarding & today I decided to try a new route to get up to the mountains & man was it GORGEOUS!! The views on the drive were entirely enchanting, serene & ethereal – almost like driving in a picture!
I’m really glad that I tried this new route even though there were some icy patches & a few parts were a little touch & go.
Seems like this could be a good mindset for starting out 2017! Let’s be determined to try some new stuff, even if some parts might be a little tricky to navigate. I find that often the rewards of new things can be better than the risks! Let’s GO!!
Another Christmas has concluded & we will soon close the chapter on 2016. Sometimes it’s difficult to say goodbye & sometimes we say with great enthusiasm, “Good riddance!”
No matter what your perspective is on the goodbyes for this year & season, let’s keep in mind that Jesus is always with us, so we never have to say goodbye to Jesus! But maybe we should say goodbye to a few things for 2017:
Would Jesus have you say goodbye to some habits that encumber your walk with Him?
Would Jesus have us say goodbye to the not so deep walk we had with Him in 2016 to grow deeper & closer with Him in 2017?
Would Jesus have us say goodbye to some disorderly priorities that perpetuate unhealthy mindsets & dysfunctional behaviors?
Let’s remember that Jesus is God’s greatest present to us & that He’s always present with us! With the Holy Spirit’s help, let’s determine to be present with Jesus in 2017 more than we were this year!
I was climbing up a ladder at 2am today, attempting to replace the dying battery on the blasted chirping smoke alarm. Needless to say, this wasn’t my ideal middle of the night wake up experience & for that matter, I don’t think there’s any ideal middle of the night wake up experience!
So how do I relate this to Jesus?
Jesus keeps us safe in unexpected situations – I don’t normally plan for ladder climbing & balance at 2am
Jesus gives us wisdom when we can’t figure out what to do – groggy thinking at 2am
Jesus restores us when we feel depleted – getting back to sleep wasn’t impossible
Because Jesus was a Jew when He lived on earth, I firmly believe that bacon wasn’t in His eating repertoire. However, bacon seems to be more than a little popular for the 21st century palate. Our appetites & eating habits have dramatically changed, some for the good & some not so much.
Which brings me to the question related to our appetites. What tastes good & what do you like to eat? Some of the things we like to eat aren’t good for our bodies just as much as some of the desires that we have aren’t good for our souls.
Let’s be sure to cultivate not only healthy appetites for our bodies but let’s also feed our souls sturdy, life-giving sustenance found through daily Bible & prayer time! Since we’re on the cusp of turning the calendar, let’s not wait for a New Year’s resolution to foster these appetites. Start now & you’ll likely keep a better routine going into the New Year than depending on a date change to facilitate a change in routines.
Some helpful tips could include:
set your alarm & get up rather than snooze it endlessly;
find a friend that can encourage & partner with some accountability;
keep track of the positives from staying disciplined;
“I know I’m supposed to be the King.” I think David thought this innumerable times in the 10+ years he ran from Saul. He was anointed by Samuel to be king & even Saul’s son Jonathan told David that he would be king. But the years kept passing & David kept running, just to stay alive. At one point, it looks like David gives up on the king thing when he moves to Philistine territory & begins serving that king. And it gets worse when David & his men return to their town, Ziklag, having been rejected by the Philistine leaders, to find their town burned & everyone carried away. Even Davids men talked of killing him, at this point. But David encouraged himself in the Lord, 1 Sam 30:6.
Through a quick series of events after this extremely low point, David was firmly on the path to becoming the King of Judah & ultimately Israel.
Sometimes when we know something from God in our hearts:
We can get impatient to make it happen.
We can get frustrated with the delays.
We may even want to quit, move away & change our name, a little bit like David.
But let’s keep walking the path that God sets in front of us, in faithful obedience & yielding to the process that will transform us in the ways we desperately need but frequently fight.
This collage of pictures is from several weeks ago when my husband was in ICU recovering from a stroke. He’s fine now, thank ya Jesus! During those days, however, you can rest assured that I was seriously looking for Jesus & finding Him everywhere!
I found Jesus when He helped us by providing one of the best ICU nurses. Ever.
I found Jesus giving me deep peace & comfort when the neurologist was examining my husband & not finding any evidence of the stroke.
I found Jesus when I would randomly meander the hallways praying, asking for help & strength.
I found Jesus when my husband was released earlier than expected with no permanent damage.
We can find Jesus, even in the times that are filled with crisis & stress!!
Looking at this picture, you would likely tell me to fix it & turn it around since it looks like Jesus is upside down. However, sometimes I think the Holy Spirit wants to turn us up on end so we be right side up, based on the Holy Spirit’s perspective. Some areas where we might need some adjusting could include:
Money: getting is never as blessed as giving
Time: sometimes I need to remember that prayer can be the key for productive rather than staying busy
Mercy: being judgmental appealing to our flesh, mercy wins with Jesus!
Leadership: serving is the model Jesus gave us if we’re going to be the Jesus-kind of leader
“Well, that was different!” All of us have had those times when we thought something would be different than what actually happened. Sometimes we are pleasantly surprised & sometimes we are bitterly disappointed. Thankfully, nothing catches the Holy Spirit by surprise & when I remember this, I’m always deeply encouraged in my soul. Furthermore, I’m increasingly convinced that the Holy Spirit uses all kinds of experiences, people & even uncertainties to help me walk more closely with Him.
So the key take away I’d suggest for today is that we stay in love with God & true to how God has designed us. When we do these things, no matter what happens God will work out things to be beneficial to us, based on Romans 8:28 🙂
Feel free to share this with anyone who could be going through some unexpected challenges!