Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Heart of Christmas

It's finally here, the Christmas season! I can't imagine not loving this time of year but there are people who dread it... They remember hurt, lost loved ones, they don't have enough money to get the presents their children want or even the food they need... My family was once one of those families, I remember how excited I would be to get a "Christmas box" from the food bank... Once I remember getting gifts from somewhere and I'm not even sure of one thing that was in that box but I am sure I could feel the love each present was given with. Someone may be having a microwave dinner instead of the big family turkey and stuffing sinner we all take for granted, some one's child is sick and there's nothing that mother or father can do to make them feel any better at all... But, you can change Christmas for someone.  I know we don't all have enough money to take pain away, buy presents for other people's families, and none of us have the power to heal a sick child so what can we do? 

I think changing Christmas for others starts with changing it for ourselves. Remembering what the first Christmas was about... A baby in a manger, yes but more than that, the God who wrapped all his fullness of power in that little swaddled package... A God who left the beauty and splendor of heaven for a winters night in a stable and a lifetime of sorrow... A lifetime know each step would lead him closer to a rugged cross of pain. God gave us the best gift available and it didn't dip into His finances at all but it took His whole heart.

Our hearts are something we can all choose to give to others. Maybe you don't have money at all but you have a smile and a kind word. If you know someone will be alone you can invite them to spend time with you. If a child is sick you can introduce their family to the healer of all disease. You can share your turkey dinner with someone. You can give presents to a family in need instead of over gifting toys that will be forgotten tomorrow to your own family. I'm not saying give your Christmas away; I'm saying give the heart of Christmas away... If Jesus lives in your heart, each time you give a piece of your love away you are imparting His heart to others and that's what Christmas is all about anyway! Christmas is about the heart and love of God, the majesty of the manger, the love of the Cross, share the heart of Christmas and you share the heart of Christ.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

You're Invited!

Hi little ones! (okay, okay, I'm the little one :o)

I'm already in the Christmas swing! I just want to drink apple cider, cocoa, egg nog (even though it makes me ill) and bake and shop and wrap gifts and visit with family and watch Christmas movies... and... and... and :o) Speaking of visiting with family, that's exactly what I've been doing every evening this week so that means today's post is a re-post! But, it was one of my first and I'm sure you all haven't already read it... Even if you have, I made some changes and enhanced the colors to make it Christmasy so you can read it again with a fresh perspective!

Love you all, merry early Christmas!
The Situation: I was praying about life and my future in particular, one thing I said to God was “You have permission to change my mind on this.” I wanted Him to know He is welcome to change my mind at any time... When I pray, I tell God where my heart is but I need Him to know just because I think something is a good idea doesn’t mean I will proceed even if I find out it’s not what He wants for me.. Kind of like when you are in a relationship; you wouldn’t make a decision to go on vacation to Alaska if your partner hated snow, you would talk and choose something you both would like. Well, I talk everything over with God (which is praying... if you’re one of the people who doesn’t get how people “pray,” praying is conversing with God like you would with others, maybe in a more respectful manner.)

The Thought: Since when does God need permission to do anything? Is it really permission he’s looking for or something else?

The Analogy: Friends, do they just give you permission to visit or actually invite you, and which is the preferred method? I never go places I am not invited; I have close friends who say “you can come over any time!” “You’re always welcome, just stop in” and I say that to my friends as well. I know I have permission to be there but just showing up somehow still feels intrusive.. At the very most I will call and hint for an invitation but if I don’t get one I am not coming.

The Conclusion: Revelation 3:20 “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” It’s not so much calling to hint for an invitation.. God goes one step further and actually shows up but he knocks and waits for your invitation to come in.. Invitation extends automatic permission but permission itself seems to lack actual invite.

The Difference: What makes one better? It’s the welcome, the admittance of need or want, honesty, directness... You can imply the desire for a relationship but it’s so much better to ask for it, a lot of people are far too scared to assume you’re interested in them and God wants the same.

My Response: “Let me be direct, God, in case I haven’t been clear with you, you are now invited into my future, my decisions, my relationships and every other part of my life, everyday! I do need you and want you involved with me. Please, come in.”

Your Response: Well, that’s up to you... But I hope it’s a “here goes” type even if you’re not entirely sure it’s worth it. Just try it, see what it’s like to have the best friend ever! John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this; that he lay down his life for his friends.”