Christmas is Upon Us

It is that time of year again.  With the lighted trees in our living rooms and the presents under the tree.  Partaking of egg nog and passing around the 400 year old fruit cake.  Yep.  It is Christmas time.

This time of year always causes me to reflect on the events and happenings from the first of the year until this point.  Also, I think about the past and thank God for His goodness and grace.  So as I reflect on the previous year and years past.  Here are some thoughts that have passed through this ponderous mind.

#1.  God really did love us to send His Son as a baby.

Sure, Jesus is a warrior whose sword is bloody and his white robe is dipped in blood.  Who has a tattoo down his thigh that says, “King of King and Lord of Lords” (or so I have been told).  Yes, that same Jesus turned over the tables of the money changers in the temple.  The same One who was beaten and bruised and ultimately killed for our sins and then beat the hell out of death.  All of the strong warrior, mighty in battle references are still implied here. But where did God start Jesus off?  Yep, a baby.  Innocent.  Helpless.  Weak.  

#2.  God gives and He takes away…and He knows what He is doing.

 Now, this may come off as offensive, but that is truly not my concern.  God has given Lovely and I five children.  We are grateful for the three that we still have with us.  The two that God “took away” or kept for His own (Tobias Mikal & Jonah-Miriam) are still very much missed.  As I was hanging our stockings the other night, I could not help but to let the tears fall.  I still miss our kids.  As of right now, Tobias would be nearly 4 years old and Jonah-Miriam would be nearly three years old.  I do not care how much time passes, I will still love them and miss them.  And no, it is not because they were sick.  It was not to keep us from pain because we are still grieving.  Their deaths did not happen because something would have been wrong with them that we could not handle.  God, for His glory, ushered them into His presence.  After our miscarriages, we were able to help minister to about 7 other couples that went through the same thing…within about six months.  Bigger picture?  It seems that God allowed us to face this situation, hurt, pain, grief, and all to build character and to help the other couples.

#3.  Finding the Peace in the Storm.

Lovely & I have been through more junk this year (or just over) that we really care to deal with.  While the bible promises that we will not be given more than we can handle, this year is REALLY pushing that limit.  We moved.  I got laid off (in 2009).  We found out about a bunch of deception.  God provided a new job.  I received a promotion at the new job.  God added a new blessing to the MTP crew.  We moved again.  Another promotion.  Plus much much more.  

I cannot honestly say that I have had the most optimistic outlook on all of these situations.  I have not have the most God-honoring attitude.  But now that the year is drawing to a close, I am now looking back and seeing God in every circumstance.  Just little ribbons of God’s grace or protection, goodness and mercy.  

#4.  Thank God for newness

God has a funny way about guiding you through life and giving you little glimpses of what is next….sometimes.  Often it feels like a carrot being held in front of a donkey to keep it going.  Other times it feels like being strapped to an engine that is hitting mach three with no signs of slowing.  No matter what way is being experienced at the time, God’s sovereignty is the hope.  If it is a new season of life, then God is the author and finisher of our faith.  All in all, God is to be praised.  

So as we approach this holiday season, take a moment.  Think about God’s goodness.  Think about God’s approach to what your life has been like this past year.  Find the grace, truth, and protection in those times.  Maybe you just need to find Jesus.  And that is okay.  We all need Jesus.  Just Jesus…and the reason that he came in weakness.  The way Jesus came into this world was just the opposite of the way He went out.  He that came to life in weakness defeated death.  The One who came in innocence bore our sins and made a way for us to speak directly to God by shattering the sacrificial system of the Jewish culture.  And as Jesus was helpless as a baby, as our Savior, he willingly walked to His scourging and death…in order to give us life.

As Christmas is upon us, lets stop.  Reflect.  And thank Jesus for what he did for us.  If you need help remembering what he did.  Watch the movie from Mel Gibson’s ‘Passion of the Christ’.

Anti-Claus

So the family (just mine…Lovely, Little Bear, and myself) are celebrating Christmas but not Santa Claus. Why? A few reasons…First, it is a relationship built on a lie. Secondly, it fosters hope that is later dashed to pieces. Lastly and most importantly, I feel it takes the focus off of the whole point of Christmas. Sure, giving is one point of Christmas, but in my opinion it doesn’t promote what Christ came to accomplish.

So here is a story about an experience we had this weekend while shopping for Christmas presents.

We were shopping for Little Bear’s presents on Sunday afternoon after church. We went to a local Kmart (or as my grandma says, “Kmarx”) to grab the last of the gifts. During our trek through the store, Little Bear let us know that she had a “dirty butt” and since it was the weekend I was on diaper duty. We walk across the store sans buggy trying to locate the restrooms only hoping that there would be a baby changing table or some other surface other than a pissed on floor to change my precious little girl. We finally get to the snack shack. The men’s room had no changing table and the women’s room was Out of Order. I asked if I could zip in and change her really quick. The ladies behind the counter grinned and blurted, “Surely!! Just keep tha der opum.” A quick minute later we are walking back out and the ladies are admiring the sweet girl that is my daughter. One of the ladies, who probably went to high school with Fred Flintstone, asked the question, “So, is Santa comin’ ta yer hauwse?” I looked at Little Bear and just smiled and said, “No ma’am, Santa won’t be coming to our house.” The two old white ladies looked at each other, one looking like, “Poor thing, I bet they can’t afferd no Chrismas.” The other looked at me like, “I bet hEz one dem peeples dat don’t eat no perk and don’t belive in Jesus. You know…dem Juice peeples.”

I grinned. They tried not to make faces or act like I took them off guard, but it was too late. The younger of the two elder ladies commented, “well, you have a beautiful little girl. Merry Christmas…or…Happy Holidays, which ever you celebrate.”

Very diplomatic, I thought. I just replayed the whole conversation when I sat down with my grandparents while they were talking about the Holy Ghost, and asked them to explain what they thought the Holy Ghost was. They think I am not saved now. You can’t help it when people have never been challenged in what they believe. I was simply trying to get to the heart of what they believe. They turned it into, well, he must be going to a church that don’t teach Jesus and God and the Holy Ghost. Not true, by the way.

Back to the store…

The fact is that if they had seen our buggy, they would have known that we had Christmas presents. Sure we didn’t have a massive pile of gifts, but we have some for Little Bear and some family.

I just wanted to sit down with them and chat about Christmas and why we don’t celebrate Santa Claus.

Maybe some day I will go back and take that time. Until then.

NO NO NO on HO HO HO!!!