Friday, December 18, 2015

The Twelve Thoughts of Christmas 2015 - Days 1-5

I intended to write a short paragraph for my Facebook page on each of the twelve days leading up to Christmas.  Just a simple thought for the day.  But because God seems to be using them in a much greater way than I would have expected, I decided to post them on my blog.
Below are the first five of The Twelve Thoughts of Christmas.  I hope they encourage you in your walk with Jesus in this holy season.

Here's the first of The Twelve Thoughts of Christmas: Herod was a punk and a cut-throat, but he did give some good advice to the magi: "Go and make a careful search for the child." Are you searching for the Christ-child in this holy season?

Why do you chase the "perfect" Christmas when the first Christmas was anything but perfect by human standards? The eternal King born in a filthy barn to working class people who were away from home because Caesar wanted his subjects to register to pay more tax—and it didn't even snow? Really? Do you think Mary and Joseph envisioned it this way? How 'bout we go a little less Clark Griswold this Christmas and a little more "shepherds in the fields keeping watch over the flocks by night"? They received Christmas just as it was with surprise and wonder and praise. So here's the second of The Twelve Thoughts for Christmas: quit chasing the perfect Christmas and start chasing Christ. You won't be disappointed.

Centuries ago the church assigned John the Baptist a place in the Advent story. And talk about wrecking havoc with a holly jolly Christmas. He’s an eccentric, backwoods, bug-eating preacher who dresses like a hick—more Mayberry’s Ernest T. Bass than Houston’s Joel Osteen. He’s a Johnny-one-note in his preaching and it’s not, “Merry Christmas.” It’s “Repent of your sins and live a life that proves it.” And instead of the warm-fuzzies we like at Christmas, JB has the nerve to preach fire and brimstone. No wonder Hallmark has never made a Christmas card with him on the cover. So here’s the third of The Twelve Thoughts of Christmas—If you want to get the most out of Christmas, instead of indulging yourself, examine yourself: confess your sins, repent, and live a life that proves it.

A couple of years ago, I read an article on about the five greatest toys of all time.  And if you guessed that BB guns, bikes, Playstations, and Monopoly were on the list you’d be wrong.  According to the article, the five greatest toys of all time are a stick, a box, string, a cardboard tube, and dirt.  I’m guessing not a single parent is giving one of these gifts to their kids this Christmas: “Hope you enjoy your box of dirt.”  Truth is: it’s not easy to give the right gift.  If we do, there’s no surprise in it.  If we don’t, it means standing in long lines at the post office or the customer service desk.  God is really good at giving gifts.  On the first Christmas, God gave the perfect gift in His Son Jesus.  There was surprise in it, delight in it, and anyone who’s experienced this Gift has no interest in returning it.  Jesus is the gift that keeps on giving—love, life, grace, peace, joy: a whole stocking full of things that matter and things that last.  So here’s the fourth of The Twelve Thoughts of Christmas—in terms of what occupies your energy and attention, make this Christmas less about gifts and more about the Gift.

“Reveal Parties” are a big deal these days for expectant parents.  And can some of these parents ever get creative!  Attenders laugh and smile and eat and enjoy themselves to no end.  But I’ve yet to see any expectant parent pull off anything like God’s “reveal party” for His Son.  An angel announcement first to Mary and later to Joseph who wasn’t buying Mary’s story.  No food was served.  No pink or blue balloons were displayed.  And it can’t be said that a good time was had by all.  There was more fear and trembling than joy and celebration.  Nobody was ever more surprised by her pregnancy than Mary.  No dad-to-be was ever more shocked at the news than Joseph.  But first Mary and then Joseph embraced God’s plan and did their part.  “I am the Lord’s servant,” said Mary, “let it be to me according to your word.”  Here’s the fifth of The Twelve Thoughts of Christmas—if God reveals some surprising—even terrifying—call on your life in this season, say yes.