Thursday, December 6, 2012

Lean into Joy

I long to lean into joy
To practice gratitude
Taking note of blessings
And dwelling on thanksgiving

To become a glass
Not as now, half empty
And not even half full
Instead, spilling over the rim

To walk away from dread
To run from the shoe drop
Living in the joy of each moment
Where simple things become defining

To truly feel adequate
Knowing that I am enough
The illusion of perfection a destroyer
Seeing myself through Christ’s eyes

Cast far away the falsehoods
Being vulnerable and real
Accepting my quirks and uniqueness
And loving others for the same

So when the little joys of life
Spring up before my eyes
May I vanquish the stormy thoughts
Seeking to steal away these precious gifts

And when a heart of gratitude takes over
Then thanksgiving will begin to flower
Fearful heart will gain new strength
And the enemy’s lies will fall on deaf ears

So God please hear this fervent prayer
And grant this heartfelt wish
That I might become a man of gratitude
With thanksgiving in all that comes my way

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Let Your "Merry Christmas" not just be a "Happy Holidays."

Just sitting here thinking on this gray and wet Fall day. Setting my mind up for the day. Going to church and then later, taking Alyssa to her praise team practice where they are preparing for several Christmas program presentations. 

Several thoughts are still bouncing around in this brain of mine. Thoughts that occurred to me as I enjoyed going to the 2nd annual city of Eastvale, CA tree lighting festivities last night.

The first and foremost thought that hit me last night, was how great it was that I have so many wonderful friends! We were fortunate enough to share some special moments with some of our friends from our Bible study small group last night and I was greatly encouraged by the meaningful conversations I had with a few of them. Friendships are some of our greatest and often undervalued treasures. Let's all take some time this year to remember and cherish those we care about. Let's remember that though this time of year is filled with fun and fellowship, it is also a time that can be difficult, stressful, and lonely for many of those we know. Let's take the time to do more than just the casual hello and do what it takes to lift each other up and show the love of Christ in whatever the Holy Spirit inspires us to do.

The second thought is this: As I listened to the music programs that were highlighted last night at our church sponsored festivities, it was not lost on me that at the end of each performance, whomever was the spokesperson for the performing groups made sure to wish everyone "Happy Holidays!" Though I fully understand that there are those who do not believe as we Christians do and though I also understand that there were possibly verbal agreements made to avoid any references to Christ since the event was setup for the city of Eastvale, the last time I looked at our great country's constitution I was under the impression that we still have freedom of speech and freedom of religion among other things.

Let's face it, if there were no celebration of Christ's birth at this time of year, is it possible that there would be some other winter holiday festivities? Yes, it is certainly possible. However, that is not the case in reality. The reality is that the primary celebration of this time of year is Christ our Savior's birth. I for one will not stop saying Merry Christmas. I am not ashamed of my Savior or what this holiday is really about. The gift giving and the myths set up around Santa Clause are not bothersome to me, though they can certainly be distracting . For those of you who choose to stay away from causing controversy or rocking the boat over our beliefs, you are free to do so. Just keep in mind that Jesus did stir it up when he walked among us and that he did say that we would suffer for bearing the mark of being his children. Let us continue in courage and without shame in speaking about his love and showing our allegiance to something far bigger and much more important than being politically correct. Let us enthusiastically say "Merry Christmas" since it is for that reason above all else that we celebrate this time of year. Be strong and courageous!

I am heading back to work tomorrow after spending the last two plus months on a leave of absence. If you are a person of prayer, please lift me up as I get back into the work groove.