presents and presence

I haven’t wrapped a single Christmas present yet & a few years ago, I didn’t wrap any until 11pm on Christmas Eve – what was the point in that?!???  I don’t think I’m generally a procrastinator, it’s just tricky to remember & find time.  Maybe this year, I’ll wrap our presents soon, maybe.  One question worth a little consideration is what will you & I be giving Jesus this year, to celebrate His birthday.  It seems kind of counterintuitive to give everyone but Jesus a present on Christmas, the day when we celebrate His birth :)

So going with the 5 Love Languages idea, here are some gift suggestions for Jesus:

  • affirmation – take some moments to sing one of your favorite praise / worship songs  directly to Jesus or make a brief list of reasons why you love Jesus and tell Him
  • touch – consider giving someone a hug that would appreciate that;  sometimes when we touch someone with genuine love it’s a nice way to communicate genuine love to Jesus (when you do this to the least of these, you’ve done it to Me – Matt 25:40)
  • gifts – think about giving a coat, hats, mittens, socks, etc to a homeless shelter or discretely helping a needy family in your church, maybe make an extra donation to a charity (Saving Moses is awesome – smile)
  • service – every church has extra services, usually, to support the Christmas season:  consider volunteering a little extra to share some love :)
  • quality time – consider dropping by a park and taking a brief walk with Jesus or waking up maybe 10min earlier just to give Jesus your presence, which is possibly the ultimate present He desires :)
  • coffee – that’s all I have to say on this one ,)

Merry Christmas!

looking for Jesus

Happy December 1!  The beginning of every December, I remind myself that while I’m about to enter an extermely busy season, the whole point of all of these festivities, parties, frenzy & busy-ness is Jesus, full stop.  So I want to look for Jesus every day this month:

  • like the shepherds looking for a newborn in a feeding trough,
  • like the wisemen looking for a King guided by a heavenly anomaly,
  • even in all his perversion & tainted motives, like Herod looking for a newborn who would upend the status quo

Jesus said that if we ask we’ll get answers, if we seek we’ll find & if we knock the door will be opened to us.  So let’s decide to look for Jesus everyday during this season – let’s streamline our focus with the help of the Holy Spirit to look & watch for Jesus, who is daily with us :)

#lookforJesus

 

good, better, best!

We are on the cusp of entering the annual holiday season with Thanksgiving & Christmas just around the corner.  While this season is filled with festivities, fun and frolicking, it can also be frenzied and full of fatigue (wasn’t that FUN?!??).  I want to be more intentional with this holiday season.  In many previous years, I’ve felt driven and drained by all of the demands that seem to accompany these weeks so if I’m not careful, I just kind of mentally and emotionally switch off and go into “automatic mode”:  get ready, show up, socialize, leave, repeat.  While the “automatic mode” can be good, it’s not always the better choice and more often, it’s not the best.

So here are a few thoughts about making this holiday season the best:

  • be on purpose – make attentive decisions about what you agree to attend:  some invitations are a command performance & some are optional, don’t try to do everything
  • pay attention to time – it seems to me that time can totally evaporate in the holidays, so I want to be careful and selective with my time during these busy weeks
  • homemade, store bought or hybrid – many of the season’s festivities require us to bring something tasty, so let’s try to plan ahead to be ready
  • breath – with all of the hustle, bustle, excitement and buzz, it helps me to pause, be still and exhale

Hot topic: IS, blood moon, Ebola & end times

We live in a very interesting time. There are people chopping off heads & think that’s entirely acceptable & even praiseworthy – weird. This week had the 2nd blood moon in a year – also unusual. Furthermore, Ebola is now being compared to AIDS for its potential devastation to humanity value – yikes! And then lots of people think we are in the end times of the world – that God is wrapping up the human experience to move into a new era of life.
I think we live in strange times, for sure. But with that being said, there are some important things to keep in mind:
*God is still in control & God is love (a very good combination)
*lets be sure to stay fresh & intense with our prayer life
*be careful not to let fear control your thinking or outlook

Intolerant

Our modern culture applauds tolerance with great conviction. We are strongly encouraged to tolerate all kinds of diversity (spicy food, GF diets, people with different ideas, age diversity, socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicity, religion etc). In general, I think that tolerance is a nice idea but sometimes it’s application can get hazy. For example:

  • truth will never tolerate deception & vice versa (antonyms are inherently intolerant)
  • intimacy will never tolerate violence
  • genuine love will never tolerate indifference or apathy

While I think that tolerance is a nice idea, let’s not think that it should be the guiding principle nor conviction for our daily living. Tolerance should never replace genuine love :)

meeting expectations

There are alot of things in our lives that have expectations:  job descriptions, social behaviors, standardized tests, . . . . We put alot of expectations on ourselves about how a person should act, look, dress, speak, etc and I think that sometimes, Christianity or religion can be a really tricky “filter”.    Looking like a Christian, talking like a Christian, dressing like a Christian doesn’t make a person a follower of Jesus.  We can match up to all of the external expectations but in our hearts, we can be a million miles away from the reason Jesus died for us.  The reason Jesus died for us was not merely to make our external image appealing, but moreseo to transform what’s on the inside of us.  The defining distinctive Jesus identifies as being His follower is our love for each other (John 13:35).  Loving well is very important :)

act the right way???

“YOU SHOULDN’T DO THAT!!!!”  When we were growing up, you probably heard that a few times, as did I.  Now that I’m an adult, I still hear those words in my mind sometimes.  “You shouldn’t be driving so fast!  You shouldn’t be sarcastic, you shouldn’t be so casual, you shouldn’t . . . . . ”

In religion, there’s lots of “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts”  – we wishfully think that the right behavior will fix everything.  From my perspective, this kind of thinking is like putting peacock feathers on a cow:  accessorizing the external in an attempt to deny or compensate for the internal.

More than we realize our beliefs shape our behavior, so perhaps we would be better to consider what we believe as the first step.  Yucky beliefs and thinking always result in yucky words and actions :)