Sunday, December 24, 2006

Rescued from the Fire

I recently had lunch with two former co-workers. They both have an interesting new job. They basically rescue items from buildings that have caught fire.

As I understand it, when after a house fire is completely out, the insurance company calls the dry cleaning company that these two work for. Then they go in and pack up anything that seems like it can be salvaged...from clothes to beanie babies. Then they take the items back to the dry cleaner and try to 'clean' everything that they recovered. They inventory the things that can not be salvaged and clean whatever can be redeemed.

It's dirty work. After working in a burned home, they come out smelling like smoke. When they start the cleaning process, they get filthy dirty.

Why?

All to help get someones life back to normal. They are willing to get smelly and dirty to help some one else redeem what is valuable to them.

As I was leaving lunch that day, the Bible teacher on my car radio was talking about people who accept our Loving Lord just as 'fire insurance'. Fire insurance is a 'must have' but it is something we honestly, sincerely hope we never have to use, right?

Much like my friends that work for the dry cleaner and clean up dirty, smelly possessions, I have another Friend that left the comfort of His home to go and clean up dirty, smelly lives. He goes in and takes inventory of all the things in your life that need to be cleaned up. What's different with Him is that everything He inventories is absolutely redeemable.

Do you know this friend? He is my Loving Lord. And He is so, oh so much, much more than a fire insurance policy! He is love in action. He left the comfort of Heaven to come to a be born in a small town and to be placed in a smelly manger when there was no room in the inn. He left that smelly manger to prepare to die on a rugged cross. He left that rugged cross to be buried in a cold, dark tomb. He arose from the dead to leave that cold, dark tomb to go back to Heaven to prepare a place just for YOU! He did all of that and much, much more so that you can live a fully redeemed life.

Will you go beyond seeing Him as your fire insurance policy? Will you willing expose your weakest points to Him so that He can redeem you from what ever is burning inside of you? Will you thank Him for all He has done for you by living for Him each and every day? Will you give a gift to the "Greatest Christmas Gift of all time"...give Him your life...completely?

Luke 2:7 (New International Version) and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

John 14:2 (New International Version) In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

What Is In A Holiday?

Have you gotten as many of them as I have?

emails saying "shop here" because this store says "Merry Christmas"

...and...

emails saying "don't shop there" because that store only says "Happy Holidays"?

I'm sure you are not surprised to find that I prefer to hear "Merry Christmas" over ...

"Season's Greetings" (Season's? Which kind weather or food? Seasons like 'season with pepper and allspice? Or Season's like spring and summer? When it becomes autumn, should I wish someone a new Season's Greeting?)

or

"Happy Holidays" (Are we really that lazy that we have to combine Christmas and New Year's so that we don't have to say "Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year"?)

And yes as we drove through our city recently and saw the banner hanging up on the lamp posts that said "Season's Greetings" and "Happy Holidays", I did look at dear hubby and say "So is the city going to be open on December 25th? If it's just another one of 'the holidays" and they are open throughout Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, why should they be closed on 12/25?

However... all that may be being petty...don't you agree?

See my favorite Christmas song is called "A Little Boys Prayer". Have you heard it? I think it has actually been around for a while. In the chorus a little boy asks his daddy "Can we have Christmas all the year long, tell stories of Jesus and sing all his songs? Something was special in our house today. Can we ask Jesus to stay?"

That's what it's all about.

Asking Jesus to come in and stay!

It's not about protesting against a store that doesn't say Christmas. It's about sharing Christmas's Guest of Honor with those who don't know him.

It's not about worrying whether the banners on the city's light post proclaim "Season's Greetings". It's about shining the Light of Heaven throughout our city.

If our country removed Christmas from the list of federal holidays (as some are requesting they do), how would that change you? Do you only celebrate his life on this one day? Or do you only share from your abundance at the end of the year?

Will you choose to let Jesus stay all the year long? Will you decide to give to others (including those you love as well as those in need) throughout the year as a way of sharing God's love? Are you willing to let go of the stress of the holidays by making them holy-days and letting everyday be Christmas?

Psalm 145:2 (The Message) Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.

Luke 6:38 (The Message) Give away your life; you'll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

In the Mix

Tonight I made sausage balls to take to work tomorrow. The recipe is easy!

Ground sausage
Grated cheese
Baking/biscuit mix

Mix and/or knead ingredients together until you can form the mixture into one inch balls and bake until brown.

I put the baking mix in a large mixing bowl. Fine, very loose ingredient. Then the grated cheese. A more coarse ingredient, small individual pieces. Finally the sausage. A thick lump of an ingredient.

To look at these three items, you'd never image that they could ever blend together to produce an edible item. The baking mix is so fine it does not want to cling to the cheese. The cheese is a bit more loose but it only wants to cling to other pieces of cheese. The sausage, oh the sausage. It does not want to break apart or let either of the other two items intermingle with it.

So I have to take my hands and work the sausage loose then pull in the cheese then my hands have to keep kneading to get the baking mix to cling to the other two ingredients. My hands keep pulling in the loose pieces to help them blend into the mix. With patience, it all comes together and when it does nothing can separate it back out. Once blended together you can not pull out any one of the three basic ingredients.

When we come together as the family of our Loving Lord, we all come from different backgrounds.

Those of us who grew up in the church tend to look at those 'in the world' as too different from us. We say we have nothing in common with 'them'. We stick together for protection against 'them'. (sausage)

Those of us who came to know our Loving Lord after 'living hard' tend to look at those from the church background as 'goody two-shoes' who don't know what we've been through'. We tend to want to keep our individuality. We want people to accept us as we are with scars and all as we try to 'fit in' this new life. (cheese)

Others of us just come and go not sure of who we are or why we are here but we are sure that this is where our Loving Lord wants us. We don't really want to 'stick' to anything. We just want to be in the mix. (baking mix)

Then the Holy Spirit starts working. The 'hands' knead us all together. He breaks apart our life long clicks by introducing some one slightly different through a Bible study or prayer group. He puts us beside a Godly "grandmother type" at work and she accepts our individuality and brings us in to the fold at her church. He lets us hear of a new House of Worship that is on fire for our Loving Lord and He gets us excited so we 'stick'. The hands of our Loving Lord knead us all together and we become one in Him. Then when you try to find the original ingredients you can't. All that you can see is Him.

Are you stuck with the sausage and refusing to break free from the clique you grew up with? Will you let Him knead someone different in your life today? Are you course grated cheese that doesn't want to stick to anything that isn't course like you? Will you let Him use you as He mixes you in with those that have known Him a long time? Are you the baking mix that is easily blown from place to place? Will you let Him blend you in where He wants you to be?

1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (The Message) You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you're still one body. It's exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Breakfast or Treats?

This week at work in lieu of a big Christmas covered dish lunch, we are bringing in some food each day then having a pizza party on Friday.

We divided everyone up into four groups. On Monday group 1 would bring in breakfast items. Tuesday group 2 brings in snack foods, Wednesday group 3 breakfast again and Thursday group 4 snacks again.

I was asked which I wanted to bring in. Snacks or breakfast. I said "snacks" thinking I'd bring in Chex mix or something like that.

The group assignments were handed out. I was in the Wednesday group. Breakfast, not snacks. Oh well, I'd make do. I asked the committe person what happened. Oops! Just a mistake. I said it was OK and made plans on what breakfast items I will bring.

I told my Mom about this and she reminded me of a simple recipe that I enjoy making. It turns out breakfast was a better list for me to be on!

Sometimes we ask our Loving Lord for what we want and we get something different. It's not a mistake. It's a blessing. He knows our needs better than we know our wants. He always knows what is best for us.

What conversations have you had with our Loving Lord lately that turned out differently than you expected? Do you trust that His answer was better for you? Will you take time this Christmas season to thank Him for knowing you better than you know yourself?

Matthew 7:9-11 (New International Version): "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

Friday, December 15, 2006

How Bright Do You Shine?

I heard the song on the radio yesterday morning. You know the story. Funny reindeer with a bright red nose. No one wants to play with him. He's too different from them.

Then things get foggy and what makes him different, makes him valuable. His difference shines a light in the fog. He becomes very loved by those that follow the light.

Do you ever feel like him? Do you ever feel that because you stand by your convictions (sexual purity, abstinence from alcohol, pure speech, etc) that people see you as too different? Do you feel that they leave you out of their 'reindeer games' because what makes you different, makes you 'no fun'?

Then.

Then fog enters their lives. Something goes dreadfully wrong. A fatal diagnosis. A family member is arrested. A job is lost. The fog is so thick they think they'll never see daylight again. What do they do?

They look for a Light to guide them. They remember their 'friend' who has a funny bright shine about them. They come to you. They trust you. They know that you know the Way, the Truth and the Life. They ask you to shine your Light in their fog. You now have the privilege of leading them to THE Light.

Will you commit to remain pure during this holiday season? Will you keep your light shining as you attend Christmas and New Year's parties? When friends experience 'holiday depression' will you shine light in their fogginess?

Matthew 5:14-16 (The Message) "Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Remember Me?

A few weeks back we visited the church where my dear hubby went to church when he was in elementary school. While there he noticed a man that looked very familiar. Hubby was sure this was a childhood friend that he had not seen in well over 25 years. So he asked...and was correct. The 'boy' had not changed much since he was a child. We made arrangements to spend a day with him and his family. Many years have passed since my hubby and this friend lived in the same town but you could not tell it from the non-stop conversation.

Today at my day job, our Admin Manager was in the Business Manager's office when a sales rep came in. The sales rep introduced himself and immediately the Admin Manager recognized him. He was a childhood friend from her neighborhood up north. According to her "he had not changed a bit" since they were little. The Admin Manager wanted to visit with the sales rep/childhood friend as soon as the sales meeting was over. She wanted to catch up.

Our Loving Lord is also the same that He was when we were little. He is easily recognizable by anyone who has ever met Him. If you haven't spent time with Him in a while, look up, He is standing right there. He welcomes your conversation. He wants to catch up.

Will you spend time with our Loving Lord today? Will you have conversation with Him through prayer? Will you spend time listening to His Word?

Hebrews
13:8
(NIV) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bookmarks and Shortcuts

My day job is in a 'deadline driven' industry. Our employees are encouraged to perform their responsibilities as quickly and accurately as possible. To help them do so, we teach them 'shortcuts'. Shortcuts are keystrokes on the PC that allow them to do something quicker.

You may use shortcuts if you use any Microsoft product. For example, pressing the Ctrl key and the letter A at the same time (also known as 'control-A') will select all the text in the active window. You could also select all the displayed text by removing your hand from the keyboard, grabbing the mouse, moving the cursor to the top of the page, clicking and holding the left mouse key, and dragging to cursor to the bottom. Obviously 'control-A' is quicker.

In my day job we also encourage our employees to 'bookmark' websites that they use regularly (or should use regularly). When the bookmarks are set, the user simply types 'Alt-A' and then types the first letter of the website (or uses the arrow keys to move down the list) until the desired site is selected. Without bookmarks, the user would have to type the entire URL into the address line of the browser. Or use Google.com to find the website again...which takes more time and can lead to distractions when another website catches your eye.

Bookmarks and shortcuts get the job done much faster. And in our industry that is a good thing.

In my Bible, I have several bookmarks. I use them to help me quickly find a passage that I want to remember within the next few days. When I use my bookmarks, I go directly to the passage I'm looking for without getting distracted by other passages that catch my eye.

In our spiritual lives we often try to use shortcuts to get to where we want to be faster. We think that we can find a nice formula to spiritual success (Prayer plus living right equals no problems/easy life). We don't want to 'walk through the valley of the shadow of death' on our way to spiritual maturity. We want to bypass or shortcut any trials that make us stronger. We want instant spiritual muscles!

Another example of a spiritual shortcut is when we use a daily devotional book to get a 'quick fix' of spiritual food without actually opening the Word and reading the related passages to see what our Loving Lord my be trying to teach us that day.

Using bookmarks in the Word or shortcuts like devotionals can help us. There is nothing wrong with using them. Sometimes perhaps oft times, however, we need to set aside the bookmarks and shortcuts and dig a little deeper. We need to get out the concordance and find the other related passages. We need to set aside time to read an entire chapter or entire book not just the one verse associated with the devotional.

This week will you choose to set aside the bookmarks and shortcuts and see what distractions you can find within the Word? See what catches your eye as you read scriptures that you have not read or not read in a while?

1 Chronicles 28:8 (The Message) And now, in this public place, all Israel looking on and God listening in, as God's people, obey and study every last one of the commandments of your God so that you can make the most of living in this good land and pass it on intact to your children, insuring a good future.

Friday, December 08, 2006

What's In A Name?

When I was little, I learned of a girl named Sharon that everyone called "Shay". I liked that name! In fifth grade, I was going to a new school. A chance to get all my new friends to call ME Shay. It didn't work. The name did not stick. Guess I didn't look like a "Shay". A few special people do call me Shay or Shay Kay every now and then. It works for them to call me that. If you are not one of those people and you try to call me "Shay" today, I probably won't even look up. It's not my name. I loved the fact that one old friend used to call me "Sharona" like in the '70s song. It works for him but not for anyone else. It's not my name.

When we were naming our son, my husband wanted the name Michael. Michael was the name of his oldest brother that died very young, before any of the other children were born. I like the name Michael but not the nicknames associated with Michael...Mike, Mikey, Mickey. I agreed to the name under one condition. He would be called Michael. And he was...until my brother entered the picture and started calling him "Mike". Michael was in upper elementary school when this started happening. Michael loves his uncle and immediately loved his new nickname. Now, as an adult, all his friend know him as Mike. Most of the family still calls him Michael. Both names work for him.

This week, in a haste to get a business related email out, I shortened someones name to the common nickname for that person. Samuel (not his real name) to Sam. Very innocent. Just a quick response and slip of the typing. Samuel responded rather abruptly "Do not call me Sam. In the future only refer to me at Samuel." He obviously doesn't like the commonly used nickname at all.

Our Loving Lord has many, many names. I don't think He minds which name we use when we call on Him...as long as we DO call on Him. We can call him Abba, Jehovah, Jehovah Jira, Yahweh, Elohim, Adonai, the Way, the Truth, the Life, Bread of Life, Light of the World. We can also call Him "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" and more.

Aren't you glad that the Maker of the Universe knows you by name and doesn't care which of His many names that you use to call upon him? Will you take time today to reflect on His many names and what impact they have on your life? Jehovah-Shalom is the name that provides you with peace. Jehovah-rapha the name that lets you know He can heal you. Or just simply Jehovah. I AM. He indeed is...is all that you need. Will you speak His name today?
Acts 2:21 (KJV) And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Have You Tasted This?

One member of our family is a very picky eater. When he eats a sandwich, it is dry. He doesn't eat chili. He doesn't like sauce on anything. If I fix a meal and he doesn't like what we are eating, he will eat a sandwich or something instead.

Rarely, very rarely, will he ever try anything new.

Tonight I made a shrimp pasta dish for supper. It had Dried Tomato and Garlic Pesto on it. Not something Mr. Picky would want to try under normal circumstances. But I tried anyway. I suggested that he at least try it. I gave him two bites. He tried it.

To my delightful surprise, he said "I want a full plate of that!!!" He stepped out of his food comfort zone, tried a dish he had never tried before, and his taste buds thanked him.

Are you a picky eater at our Loving Lords banquet table? Do you only eat the plain, simple, easy parts of His Word?

Will you step out of your spiritual comfort zone and try part of His plan that you have never tried before? Will you decide to give beyond your comfort zone? Pray deeper and more sincerely than you ever have before? Will you decide to go to the inner city and serve meals? Will you visit a shut in even though you don't 'like' nursing homes? Will you let your spiritual taste buds thank you for exposing them to the blessings of our Loving Lord?

Psalm 34:8 (The Message) Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see— how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Gas Prices

Before the election, gas prices went way down from where they were when they were at their highest. Everyone said that they would skyrocket after the election.

Gas prices, at least in our neck of the woods did go back up...a little...at their highest prices for regular unleaded gas around here could be found for just over $3 a gallon. Just before the election you could find it for around $1.90 a gallon. So that brings us to 'since the election'.

One day last week, I stopped to buy gas. The sign displayed the price as $2.10. I pulled up the pump and started putting gas in my car. I looked at the pump...and...it displayed the unleaded price as $2.05. What? I looked at the sign. Sign said $2.10. Looked back at the pump. Pump said $2. 05. I thought to myself...hmmm...why did I get so lucky? When I finished pumping the gas, I looked back at the pump. The display read "Update in process" or something like that. Then the price was suddenly $2.10. Cool! I'd saved five cents a gallon.

That afternoon, driving home, I passed the same gas station. Now the price was $2.14! I thought to myself "COOL!" and I felt that once again I won a part of "God's Lottery" (That's what I call it when you unexpectedly find money that you need...when God supplies according to His riches!)

Of course, this nine cent price hike in just one day caused people to start grumbling about the price of gas going up. People do tend to be vocal when gas prices rise.

However, today I noticed that that same gas station's prices had dropped below $2.10 again. And I started thinking about the fact that people rarely talk about when gas goes DOWN a nickel or more and they usually complain when it goes UP that much.

Why? Are we that programmed to talk about the bad and that untrained in talking about the good?

Aren't we the same way, quite often, with our Loving Lord? When things are sailing along, going our way with nothing spectacular happening, how often do we say "Hey God must be smiling on me. He's must love me. I'm going to praise Him for my normal life"? Not often. Yet when things go 'bad' for us aren't we quick to say to anyone who will listen "Poor pitiful me. I must deserve what God is doing. He must be really needing to teach me a lesson. I must have done something wrong for life to be like this." Aren't we quick to say "God where are you?" when someone suffers a loss but slow to proclaim "God I feel your presence." when things are going along smoothly?

Shouldn't we praise Him out loud, from the rooftops all the time? Shout His goodness when things are looking good for us?

Then quietly seek Him out when we hit rough waters. Seek Godly counsel to get us through without complaining loudly and 'tarnishing' His reputation. (No letters please, I know we can't tarnish our Loving Lord.)

Do you know the adage "Praise in public, criticize in private"? Will you praise God's goodness to everyone you meet today even if you are at a low point in your life? Then will you take those burdens, those low points, to him one on one, in private, and lay them at His feet? Will you?

Exodus 9:16 (NIV) But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

How Do You Cross The Line?

As I drive to work each morning, I slow down through at least two school zones. Well I slow down through every school zone I go through but some mornings I go a route that takes me through two school zones, other routes take me through more.

One thing I have noticed is that, probably for fear of a very high priced ticket, practically everyone slows down to the required 20 miles per hour. And they stay there throughout the school zone. Then they cross that white line at the end of the zone and their true personality shows up!

Some continue to drive slow for bit, not sure what just happened, not realizing they had been released from the limit of the zone.

Some accelerate so fast that you'd think they had been shot from a rocket. They can't get back up to SPEEDING fast enough. Eager to move on to the next place they need to be.

Some, probably most, resume normal speed through a smooth, acceleration which causes no one to notice that they have resumed normality.

Noticing this, I thought about how those of us who assemble in the house of our Loving Lord on Sunday mornings act in much the same way.

We slow down for an hour or so as we go through the 'worship zone". Then as some of us leave the worship center, we mosey around the building not sure what just happened. Not really trying to fellowship with other believers. Just going through the motions of leaving and heading home.

Some of us bolt for the door. Can't get to the restaurant for lunch fast enough. Glad we passed through that 'zone' so we can get to where we really want to be.

Some of us leave and resume normal life slowly leaving behind the 'worship zone' and smoothly accelerating into every day life without anyone noticing that we have resumed 'normality'.

The school zone to most people is an inconvenience. They are in too big of a hurry to notice the future of our country walking to school to absorb the knowledge they need to be successful in life.

Unfortunately, for many, church is also an inconvenience. They are in too big of a hurry to notice the investment that is being made in their future. They fail to increase in the knowledge of the one who will lead them throughout life.

How do you cross the line at the end of the Sunday morning worship service? Will you make the decision to slow down in the 'worship zone' and notice what our Loving Lord is trying to show you? Will you take those lessons through the day and through the week with you?

Psalm 46:10 (Amplified Bible) Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Anticipated Needs, Unused Gifts

Well over a month ago, maybe over two months ago, I noticed that our shower curtain had torn at that top. You know the part where the holes are that go into the hooks. About a third of the holes no longer did their jobs. The curtain was falling off of the rod.

So the next time I was at the store, I purchased a new one. A heavy duty one with metal reinforced holes. That same evening, dear hubby said to me "We need a new shower curtain. That one is in pretty bad shape." Imagine my delight when I was able to produce on the spot exactly what he was asking for. In fact I was able to present to him a better shower curtain than he expected. Since we were obviously on the same wavelength about this need, I was sure he would either take down the old one and put up the new one in short order as a way of showing his gratitude for me having anticipated his request or he would ask me to help him put it up.

So I placed the curtain in the bathroom and waited.

And waited.

I moved it next to the bathtub, perhaps as a hint, and waited.

Then today, I decided that I must want that shower curtain up more than he does. It had been long enough. So I took down the old one and put up the new one.

A little while later he commented "I see you put up the new shower curtain" and I said "You noticed"...then he asked "When did you do that?" and I replied that his answer would be in my blog. :-)

While I was hanging the curtain, I learned the Little Lesson that I hope you see as well.

Our Loving Lord knows our needs before we ever ask. He has everything lined up so that when we "let our request be made known unto Him," He is ready to supply that need "according to His riches in glory." Not according to what is on sale. Not according to what He has left over. Not according to His ability to match what we already have. According to His RICHES in glory.

So you make known your request and He supplies your need, then what? What do you do with what He gives you? Do you say "Hey thanks! Glad you're on the same wavelength with me" then set His provision down and wait to see what He is going to do next? Do you just wait to see if and when He is going to take the next step so you can thank him for "doing His job"?

Or do you acknowledge His goodness, accept His gift, and get into action? Do you take the next step and let our Loving Lord lead you as you use the gift He so graciously preselected for you?

This week will you reflect on the gifts He has given you and then will find those gifts, tangible or intangible, and pull them out and put them to their intended use?

James 1:17 (NIV): Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

How Do You Feel About Christmas?

I hate Christmas.

Well maybe hate is a bit strong of an emotion to express how I feel.

And maybe the object of that emotion is not Christmas but what we in our country do with that time of year.

The most common question this time of year seems to be "what do you want for Christmas?" and the most common statement is "You know what I want for Christmas is..."

According to a poll on about.com "close to 90% of respondents find the whole season to be stressful!"

Isn't this supposed to be a joyous time? Don't we desire to have a "merry" Christmas? Merry means full of cheerfulness, joyous in disposition or spirit. Don't we, in speaking of Christmas and New Years combined wish people "happy holidays"? Happy means delighted, pleased, or glad. While one definition of holiday is "a day on which work is suspended by law or custom" another definition is "a holy day".

Yet I all I see is bad cases of "I want-ism" and stress that overrides any chance of people being either happy or merry. Everyone is excited to have a day off from work but what is 'Holy' about the season?

I have no problem with the concept of giving gifts. It really is more blessed to give than to receive. I like giving gifts. I don't particularly need it to be limited to one day a year though. And shopping for gifts for special people in my life does not stress me out. Having the world tell me that I have to make my Christmas list early and I have to buy gifts for 'x' number of people, well that I don't get into.

In trying to reconcile what I go through this time of year, I 'googled' the root of the word Christmas and was directed to dictionary.com and found this:

Christmas is from the Old English words Cristes moesse, 'the mass or festival of Christ'. The first celebration took place in Rome about the middle of the fourth century. The exact date of the Nativity is not known, but even in pre-Christian times the period from December 25 to January 6 — now known as "The Twelve Days of Christmas" — was considered a special time of year. The abbreviation Xmas, thought as sacrilegious by some, is entirely appropriate. The letter X (chi) is the first letter in the Greek word for Christ.

So according to the dictionary, Christmas is a "festival", a "celebration" of "the Christ". Of our Loving Lord. Now I know that this is not news to me or most of the readers of this blog.

I love Christmas.

Love is not to strong of an emotion to express how I feel.

And the object of that emotion is Christ and why we celebrate on that day.

I'm not suggesting that you don't buy anyone any gifts. Gifts are given throughout the Bible. To see some examples go to www.biblegateway.com and use the "Quick Search" to search for 'gifts'. What I am suggesting is that we focus more on our Loving Lord and less on what the world pressures us to focus on during this blessed season of the year.

As we move through this month and approach this holy day, the day we set aside to remember the birth of our Loving Lord, will you commit to set aside the view of the world and bring to the forefront the real Reason for the Season?

Matthew 2:11 (NIV) On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.