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
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
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
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
“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
It seems to me that most of us like things clean & shiny more than we like the work & effort that goes into making something shiny & clean. Yesterday, my kids & I cleaned out some of our garage. Needless to say, I found lots of undesirable junk (half eaten otter pops, sticks that were used as swords, an ancient waffle iron, wood planks, etc). After lots of sweeping, washing, moving, organizing, etc, part of our garage is not longer a hazardous waste dump
Sometimes, I think we need to do the deep cleaning work in our thinking, values, time usage & relationships. Life gets filled with clutter over the course of time & it’s tremendously helpful to declutter our lives from time to time so that we manage our time, money & energies to reinforce our central & timeless priorities – shiny clean
I read this morning about some high school seniors pranks in NJ who have been arrested for pranking their high school last night. Now I can’t really say that their behavior would fall into the “civil disobedience” category because it’s May, they’re seniors & might have possibly watched “Ferris Bueller”. With that being said, I also read this morning in Acts 5 about how Peter & some of his friends disobeyed the direct commands of the Jewish leaders by preaching about Jesus in the Temple in Jerusalem, shortly after Pentecost & Jesus’ resurrection. In verse 29, Peter told these Jewish leaders they he had to obey God rather than man.
There’s a place & time for civil disobedience & some expressions of rebellion are even condoned by the Bible:
It’s not ok to passively watch someone get hurt or bullied.
It’s not ok to follow popular culture when it conflicts with loving God & loving people.
It’s not ok to blindly do what’s popular, trendy or hip.
It’s not ok to compromise your God-given identity to blend in for social acceptance.
Particularly when we are confronted with compromise, social acceptance and even being politically correct, let’s make it our fundamental priority to please God, end of story, full stop.