Walking through the neighborhood during December offers a feast for the eyes. Lights twinkle everywhere, nativity sets grace the outdoors, lights sit in windows. Plus this year some people have an entire plastic garden of toys, complete with trains, Santas and moving figures. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and even guilty because you don’t put out the energy that your neighbors expended.
I’m sure you all recall the story of Mary and Martha in the New Testament. They were close friends of Jesus and he often stayed in their home. On one occasion Mary worked hard to prepare a meal for the master. She became annoyed that her sister wasn’t helping, and she requested Jesus to get her sister involved. His reply probably stunned her: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Some of us feel like Mary during the holiday season when we’re supposed to be celebrating the Savior’s birth. Our lives become a mad dash, and we often forget why we’re supposed to be joyful. It’s so easy to be tense and irritable during this season of rejoicing.
Author and speaker, Jennifer Slattery is my guest this week. She had learned to live with chronic illness. and she’s going to give us some great ideas on remaining calm and focused.
There’s nothing as precious as holding your new baby in your arms, but each time I gave birth, I also felt the enormity of the task before me. We want our children to have a good life, and good parenting lays the foundation for that. They need to be loved and they need to be taught. In fact, I believe loving them means teaching them. I also believe every parent should teach their children rather than leaving it up to the church. The job it too important to pass off.
Christmastime, however, can be a huge distraction. I love the pretty lights that blink at us from everywhere. Santa and his elves appear everywhere, and you’ll see nutcrackers dressed up with ribbons in store windows. Getting up the decorations and hanging the stockings are all such fun. But none of the glitter our culture spreads about addresses our biggest task, teaching our children. A world broken by sin would have no hope. All the tinsel we could throw up in our homes would just hide the reality of our doom. Jesus came to redeem us, and if we embrace that, all the celebration is worth it. Because Jesus set us free, we need to sing about our joy at the top of our lungs. Psalms says “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD!”
There are, however, things to consider when we discuss doctrine with our offspring. If you think about the Old Testament, there are places that it’s x rated because God shows people as they are. You also need to consider varying maturity levels. A parent shouldn’t give a child more than they can digest emotionally. Pastor and author Marty Machowski offers suggestions on how to teach at Christmas and all year as well.
Learn more about Mr. Machowski here and learn more about his writing here.
Proverbs 17:22 A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
We think of medicine as the cure for our hurts, a way to get well, something we don’t need until illness overtakes us. However, let’s examine the other half of the verse. If we live with a crushed spirit, we’ll soon need some tonic.
We’ve come to the holiday season, which runs from Thanksgiving to New Years Day. It’s a month when we feel obligated to celebrate until we reach exhaustion. Sometimes we find it difficult to get in the spirit of the season, especially if we’ve suffered losses during the past few months. The year my father died, I didn’t want to think about parties. In such cases, that’s appropriate. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”(Eccl 3:1)
However, often we look toward this season and all its demands with trepidation. This year I’ve heard a few people say they’d like to skip Christmas. Looking at the world will bring anxiety, especially lately. Despite the freedoms the Constitution offers, voices around us say not to express our opinions or discuss our faith. Almost every day we hear of another terrorist attack or shooting. Our world is hostile to Christians. I was in Gatwick airport the day of the Paris attacks and witnessed a SWAT team hurry past. A bomb threat and an armed man brought security in force. How fun is that?
Despite all that, I want to encourage you to cling to hope. A special family friend and mentor passed away recently. Prior to his death, I asked him how he handling his decling health. He told me he watched his thoughts. That answer is both simple and profound. Our emotions follow our thoughts. Let’s consider Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” That same friend, who is now in heaven, told me we can have confidence because we’ve read the last chapter. I love that. Yes! We have hope.
This week I interviewed Jane Rubietta and we discussed ways to keep joy in the holiday and ways we can laugh through the entire Christmas season. Listen and enjoy.
The holidays are approaching fast, and it’s such a busy time. Many of us will see relatives we love and a few relatives we don’t like. For some of us, Thanksgiving and Christmas bring stress as we consider interacting with that difficult person. Today we’re here to offer some thoughts to make those times easier.
I remember what Paul said in Romans. He advised us strongly to make our bodies a living sacrifice. I don’t know if you’ve noticed the change in language these days. But you’ll hear people talk about freedom of worship rather than freedom of religion. I think that’s deliberate. People who don’t understand our faith assume everything happens inside a church, but it doesn’t. A living sacrifice doesn’t crawl off the altar. In fact, that phrase is an oxymoron. That’s like saying that’s a hot ice cube. The word sacrifice entailed death. In our case, however, we are to live all the time through Christ as if the old nature is dead. That’s or service of worship. In that same passage in Romans Paul says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Hebrews 12:14) What a huge assignment, especially with the history we bring to our families.
Today we have Counselor Judy Herman to share ideas about demonstrating God’s love to those hardest to enjoy.