Are you ready for Christmas

Christmas is less than a week away, are you ready? I’m not asking if you’ve got all the gifts, been to all the parties, or seen all the movies. I know we all have a list of what needs to get done, or “it’s just not Christmas.”

For me the “Big 3” Christmas movies that have to happen are Elf, The Bishop’s Wife and The Charlie Brown Christmas Special. Two down, one to go!fractal abstract

It’s no secret I love the season and even though I am the preacher type, I don’t demand the ‘sacred’ perspective on every element.

I love jingle bells, cheesy Christmas shoes songs, ‘only 6 shopping days left’ announcements, and talking about the pretend Santa Claus (though I prefer the story of the real guy from Turkey… if I just dropped a bomb on you and ruined Christmas, my bad).

When I ask if you’re ready for Christmas, I’m not asking you to check your list, your calendar, or your energy level. I am asking you something that goes a bit deeper.

Christmas is the season for celebrating the coming of our Savior. The God of the universe descending not to earth, but into humanity. The incarnation of God in human flesh.

John 1:14  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

It is the undisputed greatest event in human history! We divide our calendar between BC and AD because of it. It defines the belief system of more than one third of the planet’s 7+ billion people. It’s the cause of the largest retail boost in the country every year.

Okay, that last point was a little weak, but you get my drift.

Christmas in its simplest expression is the birth-day celebration of Jesus. An annual remembrance of the day He put on a human suit and stepped into our reality.

By this great incursion of the Holy into the profane, we have been given Good News for all, the life lessons of the Gospel to bring heaven to earth, the sacrifice of the cross, the forgiveness of the resurrection and the hope of eternity in the presence of our Creator.

Talk about some party favors.

But, like any party, if you’re going to enjoy it, you have to be there. The invitation has already been sent in His Word, His Church and the million little ways His Spirit has nudged in this lifetime… maybe even with something like this little article?

So, the only question that remains is, are you coming to the party? That’s what I mean when I ask if you are ready for Christmas.

You can get so wrapped up buying gifts and planning the party you miss the Guest of honor, and that would be a shame.

On that very first Christmas, shepherds were terrified, the angel announced, the heavenly host appeared: “Glory to God in the Highest!”

And, then…

Luke 2:15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”

This is my encouragement to you this Christmas, “Let’s go over… and see this thing that has happened.”

Hit the pause button, allow a silent night, hold hands with your family, pray around the tree, attend a Christmas service… show up at the party.

Merry Christmas.

Rudolph needs therapy

Rudolph needs to see a good Christian counselor…Для Интернета

I love the Christmas season and anyone riding in car with me post Halloween will know Holiday music is top on my list.

  • Sacred Christmas carols… the best!
  • Traditional Christmas classics… love them!
  • Hokey secular holiday fare… bring it!

I love it all, but I have to admit there is a song that has begun to bother me over the last couple of years. Maybe it is because my own personal growth has revealed some Для Интернетаthings to me.

Maybe it is because my years in pastoring have trained my ear to hear things a little differently. Maybe I just never listened to it closely before, but I have come to a conclusion that Rudolph needs Jesus.

While I love everything about the holiday, I love that every bit of it stems from the coming of our Savior Jesus the Christ.

Even the secular stuff makes me happy, because it causes the world to frame a whole season to include Jesus, whether they like it or not.

But, as I have been listening to the children’s classic Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, I fear that after all these years, he is still missing it.

So, my dear friend Rudolph, if you are reading this, please take these words from a loving brother who only wants you to enjoy the real meaning of the season.

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen,
you know Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen,
But do you recall?
The most famous reindeer of all?

Rudolph, it’s obvious that you have deeply embedded feelings of insignificance. In a huge world, drifting in a massive universe, it’s easy to feel small. Also, coming from a large family can sometimes make one feel overlooked, cast aside and devalued.

Dasher was a bully who raced you everywhere, and growing up with that prima donna Prancer would be tough for any of us, but you can’t let their actions define you.

Psalm 139 teaches us that each one of us was carefully created by the God of the universe Himself. If for no other reason than that, you have incredible value!

Psalm 139:13 (ESV) – For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

So, don’t let the fact that Cupid withheld love from you change the fact that you are infinitely valuable simply because your Heavenly Father made you that way.

When no one else remembers, He recalls your name.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Has a very shiny nose
And if you ever saw it
You would even say it glows.

My friend Rudolph, you are not alone, we all struggle with our appearance. We have a world bent on image, putting up false fronts and practiced in the art of putting on a show every time you step out of the house.

It’s not healthy, and caving into the pressures of the image culture will only make things worse. Some of the best ‘looking’ people in the world are monumentally unhappy because you can’t airbrush away reality!

Let me be honest with you… I had the very same problem a few years ago.

A very red, shiny, nose, and this was in the days before proactive. There was nothing to do but hope and pray it would go away. Sometimes, you couldn’t even blow your nose because it was so painful.

But, nothing is more painful than having someone point it out and even say it glows… people can just be mean.

Always remember that every part of you and every phase you go through is part of God’s wonderful plan for you!

Psalm 139:14 (ESV) – I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

That big red nose of yours… it’s beautiful because the greatest Artist in the universe made it that way.

All of the other reindeers
Used to laugh and call him names
They never let poor Rudolph
Join in any reindeer games

Sometimes, we find ourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is never more true than when we long to be in real community with people and just can’t find that right fit.

Rudolph, not finding the right peer group can have devastating consequences, and I just want to say I am sorry for the way you have been treated.

In the same breath though, you have to stop trying to force your way into a group that laughs at you and calls you names. They are intentionally keeping you on the outside; its some kind of stupid reindeer game to them.

God made us to be people in community, and you have a right to be in a family of people who will love you as you are!

Romans 15:7 (ESV) – Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Sometimes, the best thing you can do is leave painful relationships behind and go where God is leading you.

Maybe it’s time you find a new herd?

Then one foggy Christmas Eve,
Santa came to say,
Rudolph with your nose so bright,
Won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?

Oh, no. Don’t fall in the trap Rudolph.

Since the beginning of time we have struggled with misappropriating our value on our achievements. You are worth so much more than the sum of what you can do, produce or offer!

If you get caught in the trap of establishing your value on your performance, you will eventually fail yourself.

It doesn’t matter what big whig comes along to puff you up when they need something from you, you need to remember there is a God who loved you and valued you even though you had nothing to offer Him

I know how it goes my friend. You get the phone call from that guy you’ve looked up to for so long, and just because he’s the one that asked, you jump. Next thing you know you are pulling a sleigh full of misery, for a guy who’s using you to get his job done.

Ephesians 2:8–9 (ESV) – For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Your value isn’t in what you do, it’s in who you are.

Then all the reindeers loved him,
And they all shouted out with glee,
Rudolph the red-nose Reindeer
You’ll go down in history!

Rudolph, Rudolph, Rudolph… chasing applause is like chasing the wind. You can’t base your worth on the opinions of others, because people are broken and frail.
Sure, today they love you and are shouting with glee, but what about tomorrow?

That’s a treadmill you do not want to get on!

It feels good, there is no doubt. We love to hear the accolades, we can thrive on the praise, and we can be strengthened by the admiration. But, it’s all temporary like living on a diet of candy canes… it’s sweet at first but it only leads to a lifetime of tooth decay and diabetes.

You can’t live on the success of Christmas morning all year. By the time mid-January hits you won’t be going down in history, you’ll just be history and yep… you’re going down.

There is only one Audience you need to be concerned with and He already loves you.

John 3:16 (ESV) – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Rudolph, you don’t need to go down in history… He’s already made history for you!

So, my reindeer friend, let me just conclude by saying that this Christmas I hope you find the real meaning of the holiday. No need to play their games, pull their sleigh, or make their record books.

Christmas is about the God of the universe loving you so much, He sent His one and only Son to this place on a rescue mission for us. To save us from ourselves, to save us from each other and give us a life worth living that will prepare us for eternal life with Him.

Don’t miss Christmas this year my friend… it’s all for you.