Tag Archives: Christmas

Zero Christmas Presents Next Year

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I’m guessing the title of this blog got your attention. How many of you can imagine a #Christmas without exchanging gifts? Does the idea bother you? Yes? Then you’re meant to read on.

Sadly, every year many people see the Christmas holiday approaching and their shoulders tighten. They remember last year’s task of figuring out what to buy everyone, long check out lines, the nervousness of hoping they chose the right gift, and so on and so on. Even before the biggest holiday of the year is actually here they’re already weighed down by unnecessary stress.
It’s really a shame.

I’ve heard on the news many times, “….burgular has stolen Christmas from another family”.

Stolen Christmas?

As a Christian, I have a problem with that phrase. Christmas is not something that can be stolen. It’s the celebration of Christ’s birth. Can you take that from anyone? Of course not. That’s the problem with the zombie-like, “must buy presents” mentality. We’re slaves to materialism!

How about we take the words of Christ to heart? Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need”.

Two things are important here.

First, seek His Kingdom above all else. We need to ask ourselves, “Am I focused on His Kingdom above all else or are presents, people, candy canes, celebrations and lights in the first-place position in my heart?”

Be honest!

Second, notice the verse ends with “…and he will give you everything you need”. Christ didn’t say He’d supply a PS4, a new sports car or a Hawaiian vacation as a result of our dedication to seeking His Kingdom. God is telling us here that our needs are a higher priority to Him than our wants. Obviously, we should mirror His perspective- God first, needs second and then wants….maybe.

Picture a world where this was reality. Instead of long lines at retail stores we’d see those lines at the soup kitchens, waiting to help the needy. People would camp out in front of their Church waiting for Christmas service, not in front of Macey’s eager to get their hands on the latest name-brand purses. Families would not continue sinking deeper into credit card debt. They’d pay cash to buy a homeless family an entire wardrobe instead.

Man, I’d love to see this kind of economic prosperity in our country. Wouldn’t you?

I would love to see a world where Christmas isn’t a source of stress but tranquility, unselfish acts, and the celebration of Christ’s birth.

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The decision to go without buying presents at Christmas can affect your bottom line grately. Think of what you spent this Christmas season on gadgets, gifts, toys, clothes, wrapping paper, ribbons, fuel, time, etc. Now add that number your current bank account balance. Wouldn’t you rather that total be in your account right now in case something major rears its ugly head? Or you could put it towards paying off a credit card, paying on a loan or paying extra on the monthly rent at you apartment. That would be a Frugal Lifestyle decision that helps reduce stress and would eventually lead to financial Freedom.

A No-Presents Christmas also sets an example to the following generation. They’d understnad that God being born as a human baby is the resaon for Christmas. They’d learn to focus on the Ultimate Gift they’ve already been given, not the material gifts they’re expecting.

A no-presents Christmas is also a great way to weed out those “what did you bring me?” people. You know, the ones that are only interested in what they can squeeze out of you? We all have them in our lives. But, telling everyone that there will be zero Christmas presents next year will also expose the cream of the crop. Those who actually care about you will say things like, “Spending time with you is present enough”. Those are the ones you hang onto!

As 2013 comes to a close let’s start imagining a stress free, laid-back, relaxing, Christ-centered Christmas for 2014. After all, we’re celebrating HIS biryhday, right?

Prayerfully consider a “no-presents Christmas”.

#Batman’s True “Superpower”

Batman’s True SuperpowerThe Bat

To say I am a big #Batman fan would be an understatement. I love the flawed, dark character partly because I can relate to him. He’s by no means perfect and I love that. He wrestles with inner conflict, flirts @ the borders of what’s considered legal and he’s wanted by the law enforcement agencies he saves on a regular basis. Batman is called into action when the Justice League (Superfriends for those who can remember) is in a bind. He’s known for doing what other superheroes cannot.

I remember an episode where Superman, Wonderwoman, Flash, Green Lantern and the Martian were taking turns interrogating a criminal. They tried for hours on end to get vital information from him and got nowhere. Batman arrived, spoke to the criminal for a few seconds and walked up to Superman with the needed information. Flash asked Superman, “How’d he do that?” Superman replied, “You don’t wanna know”.

Yeah, I love the Batman.

It’s easy to think of all this character’s toys, his money, mansion and his fancy vehicles as his greatest attributes. However, you’d be wrong. Batman, aka The Dark Knight, has another name unknown to most- World’s Greatest Detective.

True Batman fans will remember a conversation our hero had with Commissioner Gordon on the roof of the police department. In this conversation Gordon gave Batman a riddle from a villain called The Riddler. Gordon thought out loud as he tried to figure it out, Batman walked calmly to the edge of the roof and prepared to disappear over the edge, having figured the answer in just a few seconds. Gordon asked, “Wait, you already know what it means?” Batman replied, “Yes, don’t you?” then vanished in true Batman style.Off the Edge

The intelligence of this cartoon character is one that is often overlooked in movies and Saturday morning episodes. But, we Christians would do well to keep it in mind. Think about it. Have you ever watched an episode where Batman fought the bad guys without first doing research on the criminals themselves, their tactics, weapons, known affiliations, etc? He’s often seen in front of his huge Batcave computer, typing in information or looking through his microscope at some chemical compound or another.

Once the research is done he is then ready to face the bad guys- equipped with toys, vehicles, gadgets and the intelligence necessary to use his tools in the right way. If Batman didn’t posses this tremendous intellect he would be completely ineffective in crime-fighting.

The discipline of seeking knowledge and wisdom before facing a problem is very Biblical advice. While I’m sure Batman isn’t a follower of Christ, he does help remind us of the importance of doing our research before diving into a problem, business venture or solving our financial woes.

Batcomputer

 We should seek God’s Wisdom before tackling any problem, includeing money problems. The Bible is filled with examples of financial mistakes by God’s people along with the consequences of those mistakes. We need to learn from them.

Remember the story of Solomon? In 1King 3:5 God came to him saying, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”

Wwwwoooooowww! Can you imagine what you’d ask for?

(Honestly a Riddler green, 2014 Chevy Camero just flashed through my head.)

However…Solomon replied in verse nine, “Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”

#Solomon recognized two things of massive importance; his own ignorance and God’s infinite #wisdom.

This should serve as an example to us. Are we humble enough to admit we need His guidance or are we so arrogant that we tell Him, “It’s OK, I got this”?

 Judging from the sense of urgency on the faces of #Black Friday shoppers last month, I’d say most of us fit in the arrogant category. But, let’s get back to Solomon.

Verse eleven tells us, “So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have!”

I could not imagine being Solomon at that moment, being granted such Wisdom-directly from God-that it would be unmatched by anyone in human history from that point on!!

The great thing is we can do the same thing! Yeah, you heard me, we can go to God and ask Him for the wisdom to tackle enemies such as greed, materialism, idolatry and worldly ambition.

Proverbs 24:13-14

My child, eat honey, for it is good, and the honeycomb is sweet to the taste. In the same way, wisdom is sweet to your soul. If you find it, you will have a bright future, and your hopes will not be cut short.

It doesn’t get any plainer than that. God tells us, in no uncertain terms, that wisdom yields a bright future. That’s more than enough reason to seek wisdom, in my opinion. 

So what are your financial hurdles? What’s holding you back from the financial freedom you dream about? How can you be a better steward of your God-given assets?

To find the answer to these questions, and others, we need to be Biblical Detectives. Seek God’s Financial Wisdom. Ask Him what your goals should be and which path to take towards achieving those goals.

One last thought from Proverbs 4:5&6

Get wisdom; develop good judgment. Don’t forget my words or turn away from them. Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you.

Sounds like good advice; besides, it worked for both Solomon and Batman.

Skip the ‘Thank You’, Bring On the #Presents!!

Over the last few years I have noticed a trend I consider very sad. It is something that has developed over time, almost unnoticed, and now it is blatantly set before us. We walk by it in malls and shopping centers and are exposed to it on internet and TV ads. Unfortunately, most are unaware of this ungodly happening because it was so subtly conceived, silently encouraged, nurtured and allowed to mature.

Traditionally speaking, early November is the time of year malls would feature harvest scenery, fall colors and early American pilgrims praying over their stuffed turkeys. This is normally when we’d pause to thank God for the blessings of the last year. We’d go around the Thanksgiving dinner table sharing our many reasons for being thankful and we’d do our best to remember to be more thankful throughout the next year.

(It’s ok…I sometimes forget that yearly resolution too)

As I write this article the date is November 19th, 2013- nine days before Thanksgiving. A few days back I took the picture featured here inside a popular grocery store chain. Do you see the turkey, fall colors and reminders to be thankful? No? That’s because they aren’t there. They’ve been skipped over for the sake of starting the Christmas shopping season early. The ever-important dollar has taken precedence over the attitude of thanks for all we have been blessed with over the last year or so. Instead of department’s stores reminding us to appreciate what we already have, we are being steered towards the “What can I get next?” attitude.

The Importance of Being Thankful

1 Chronicles 16: 8- Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done.

God commands us to thank Him for the things He’s given. This is not an option, it’s a command we should take seriously.

Can you imagine a former victim of sexual slavery not thanking her rescuers? Just the thought of it seems absurd, doesn’t it? She has been brought from a life of misery, abuse, hopelessness and sadness. Her gratitude should last a lifetime. She would owe her freedom to those who risked their lives to free her. Every latte’ she enjoyed, every sunset she viewed from the time of her freedom to her last breath would be owed to the ones who considered her so important they could not leave her in bondage. A lifetime of thankfulness is the very least she should show. The same is true for us who have received so much from the Creator.

Not only do we owe thankfulness to the Lord but our thankful attitude will “…make known among the nations what He has done”. Hello! Is that not a great reason to speak about how thankful you are? I know when I hear someone thank their parents for raising them and putting up with their bad attitude it makes me appreciate those parents even though I have never met them.

Who doesn’t get all warm and gooey when they hear of a single dad who raised three girls, encouraging them, made sure homework was completed, worked two jobs while attending night classes, fought off the teenaged hormonal boys and was a living example of manhood to his princesses?

That image sticks in your head.

Our heart goes out to this extraordinary man because his loving sacrifice was so huge and because he did it to benefit the ones he loves. Without even thinking about it we tell our co-workers at lunch, “Hey did you hear about that single father on the news?” Social media eventually picks up the story and it spreads like wildfire.

Now, imagine this happening when we explain how thankful we are to God-the Son- for His sacrifice on the cross. He gave all He could give for us. He rescued us from the consequence of sin- which is an eternity without His presence while in eternal torment.

Should we be thankful? Most assuredly! Because we owe it to Him and because others should know of all He has done.

Mixed Up Priorities

As I mentioned, corporate America has skipped over Thanksgiving so they can offer what they consider to be ‘great deals’ a bit earlier, thus lining their collective pockets with consumers’ hard-earned cash. Money is their priority; we’ve come to expect that from them.

But, where are your priorities?

Are you on the bandwagon, preparing for Black Friday, Cyber Monday (& possibly Tuesday), sales, discounts, upgrades and other ‘can’t miss’ opportunities to accumulate and collect? Or are you taking the Christ-like approach, refusing to skip over Thanksgiving so you can dedicate time to being thankful?

Your choice is a reflection of where your priorities are. Matthew 6:33 reminds us to seek God’s Kingdom first.

Q: Is it possible to seek His Kingdom, His Will, His desires for your life, while skipping over thankfulness?

A: Absolutely not!

Part of God’s Will for our lives is that you give Him thanks as 1 Chronicles 16: 8 tells us. Passing up the act of Thanksgiving for the sake of grabbing onto more stuff is the same as looking at your rescuer, remembering what He rescued you from and reaching the conclusion that there is no need to show gratitude! It’s absolutely absurd, disrespectful and ridiculous!

Now, if retail store owners wanted to skip over Thanksgiving because they were excited to celebrate the virgin birth of Jesus, I might be a bit more understanding. But, even if that were the case, it would still be against God’s commandment to have a thankful heart.

So, let’s wait on the Christmas carols, presents, manger scenes and Santa Clause for a few more days. Wait till after you’ve shown proper thanks to the Creator before we move onto celebrating His birthday.