Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Free Gift at Christmas

Christmas gifts

When I was a child, Christmas was mostly about toys and games. I knew the Christmas story and God was a part of our family get-together, but my excitement came from the presents and the hidden treasures inside.

Even as I grew older (beyond the childish years), Christmas was sometimes still about what I’d get. And so often, I’d be disappointed.

I think that’s because what I really needed and wanted couldn’t be bought.

Then we had our first child. Christmas was suddenly about her joy, about sharing the time with her—the three of us.

The more our family has grown, the more this is true. Christmas is about family. About spending time with our children. Seeing the delight on their faces. Sharing laughter of family stories and shared values. Enjoying a meal together.

Sharing Jesus together.

When it comes down to it, it’s not the gifts and gadgets, the trinkets or toys. It’s Jesus we want at Christmas. We were made to want God in our lives. We were made to need Him.

The One who brings us peace. (A rare commodity these days.)

The One who loves us unconditionally. (Who knows better than we do how hard we are to love?)

The One who grows our faith. (He’s the Author and Finisher of our faith.)

The One who grants us joy. (Despite whatever isn’t going right.)

Jesus is what we need at Christmas. More of His presence and peace. More of His words in our lives. His voice. A deeper revelation of His love.

And He gave Himself freely so we could know Him, love Him, hear His voice, be with Him. He has made himself accessible to anyone, everyone. He is the greatest gift. 

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: 
and the government shall be upon his shoulder: 
and his name shall be called 
the mighty God,
the everlasting Father,
the Prince of peace. 
(Isaiah 9:6, KJV)

Has Christmas ever left you feeling down, like you didn’t get what you really wanted? (Yet, if you were asked, you wouldn’t be able to express what you wanted—it’s too elusive, even to you.) This year, look to Jesus to fill you up. To satisfy those deep places in your heart and life. And not just at Christmas, but all year long.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Breathing at Christmas

Are you doing things differently this Christmas? I’m determined to keep things simple. I used to send out a thick stack of cards. I used to slave over Christmas letters, or stress about having photocards printed. I used to get anxious about postage and correct addresses and timing. We used to travel, but this year our schedule's a little different. This year, with all these things, we'll keep things simple. Just enjoy each other. Just breathe.

I like lighting candles in my home office on dreary late fall days like today. One deep breath in here and you’ll smell pumpkin and cinnamon from two burning
candles. Their fragrances are relaxing in the midst of the busy-ness of work deadlines and expectations. Soothing.

Sometimes you just have to stop and breathe.

Our children have always loved taking a drive through the city streets and pointing out Christmas light displays this time of year. The shorter days give us lots of opportunities. And those lights are a feast for the eyes. It’s important not to miss those moments of shared family time, of awe and delight.

Here are some specific seasonal delights we should try not to miss:

Family. Appreciate those hours together. Like the presents under the tree, they’re a gift. I’m looking forward to dear family time during the Christmas season.

Peace. No matter what’s happening in the world, God gives inner peace. Peace that doesn’t make rational sense. Peace that stills the soul.

Joy. Jesus came to us so humbly, so tenderly, when He arrived as a tiny baby. He appeared to set us free, to lift us from darkness. Rejoice! Your Savior has come!

Love. Because Jesus came, we can know God; we can love Him, know that we’re loved, and share that love with others.

Hope. The tough “stuff” of our lives doesn’t have to remain the same, doesn’t have to continue to hold us back or hurt us. Because of Jesus, we have hope that change is coming. He will get us through.

Life. A new life in Him. That’s His promise when we say yes to His gift of salvation. He moves into our hearts and changes us from the inside out. Praise God!

I was watching a television show today where the hero risked his life to save a roomful of people. He went down. While the crowd was gasping, someone called out, “He saved us. Did you see that?” And the others looked on in awe of such a selfless sacrifice. The show’s hero stands up moments later, none the worse for wear. Reminded me of Jesus, only in His heroic act to save us, He did give His life. I stopped watching the show for a minute to praise Him, to worship Him—my Savior.

This season, don’t miss Him.


Enjoy this Christmastime, dear friends. Let Him minister life, joy, peace, love, and hope to you and your family.

Delight in the Savior this season.

Just breathe…