Monday, December 28, 2015
I can very easily become addicted to things. An addiction is defined as anything one needs on a regular basis, and can not live without. Some addictions are not as bad as others, but when I focus on what I want, it is rarely a good thing. There are the obvious addictions. My first was smoking. Once I started, it became a most enjoyable part of my life. Quitting didn't work, because I didn't want to quit.
Without this "friend," I was crabby, and not nearly as sociable.
Smoking was part of my identity. Next, was drinking. Granted, I didn't do it all the time, but It too was part of my life. I felt very with it, and in charge while drinking. You would think that once you went through being sick and hung over, that would end it. No. I enjoyed the status of having drinks with friends, or at dinner.
It is easy for me to become addicted to food too. When I find something that I love, it becomes part of the joy of eating. Snacks are special culprits. What happens in forming an addiction? It is forming the habit of something that becomes a part of your life. Even the thought of doing without Spurs you to hang on to it even harder!
I have at times, become addicted to T.V. For a time I had to watch movies everyday on the Lifetime Channel. I planned my day around it. I let Bible study slide, I didn't take time for prayer, I didn't do ministry, because I was too preoccupied with trivial pursuit. The more I did this day after day, the more miserable I became! Like any of my addictions, I had to finally turn it over to The Lord, and let Him be in charge! Once I got to the desperate point, I let go, and fought to get free!
In each case, I could not fight it alone. I am human, I am weak. Some addictions in life, are even harder to dislodge. People use all kinds of things to heal their wounded, fragile, souls! Whether it is food, drugs, alcohol, pornography, sex, or even T.V., we all at one time or another grasp something to make us feel better about ourselves. I know that I was insecure, and had a very low self-image. The way I learned to cope was to hold a drink, a cigarette, or dress to get attention. In that world I created, I could feel adequate. I could feel better and appear better than I was.
I am not proud of how messed up I was. I am extremely grateful that Jesus saw me in all my ugliness, and false identity, and loved me enough not to leave me there! Once I met Jesus, and gave my life to Him, He changed my heart, and let me see that I didn't need the garbage to be accepted. Did it happen overnight? No, it has been a journey! God has patiently walked me through the past, and helped me deal with each part of my life. He has shown me who I am in Him!
I must tell you I am not totally there yet! I can still very easily get addicted to things like sweets, and T.V.
But, it is short lived. God lovingly shows me what I am doing, and helps me to go a different direction. I am so thankful I can lean on Him. Nothing is too messed up, or too difficult for Him! It is choices! He will guide and direct you, but you still have a choice! Do you know what your addictions are? Maybe you don't have any. But if you do....Jesus can and will help....just ask Him! I am so glad I did!
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
We all like gifts. From the time we are born, we get gifts for Birthday, Anniversary, graduations, wedding, baby shower, and Christmas. All gift worthy occasions! Why do we give gifts? We give gifts to honor the recipient, to share in others joy, and to tell them we love them. We are social creatures. We enjoy other people. Gift giving is one of the oldest traditions, and was common behavior even before we were an advanced culture.
Gifts were common as tributes to rulers of the land. We honor someone else, but we are the ones who feel gratified and happier about ourselves. The giving of a gift is emotional, selfless, and it takes time and thought. This time of year is a time for Christmas gifts, which may have come about because The Magi brought gifts to Jesus.
We run ourselves ragged, fight crowds, and spend money we don't have to find the perfect gifts. Why did that become such a big deal? Unless everyone was born on Christmas Day, it is not their birthday. The Bible says in Matthew 2:1-11, the Wise men came and inquired where to find the King of the Jews. They traveled far and saw Jesus days or weeks after He was born. Did they bring gifts to set an example? No. Did they bring gifts to exchange with others, or among themselves? No. When it is someone's Birthday, do you give gifts to the rest of the family? No. We honor only the Birthday person.
When the Magi saw Jesus, they fell down and worshipped Him. They presented gifts of gold, which was very costly, frankensence for one who would rule, and myrrh, for one who would need burial oil. People of the east never approached the presence of Kings or great people without gifts. It was their custom, but it wasn't their gifts that were precious to Jesus; it was that they fell down and worshipped Him.
The custom we have developed into a fine art of Christmas exchange has no Biblical basis. It is actually a pagan custom. I am not trying to be your Christmas Grinch! I like presents as much as any of you. What I have come to at this point in my life, is that gifts are not my focus. As I walk closer to Jesus, my Christmas is simpler, less hassle, and I am able to focus on the greatest gift you or I could ever receive. Without that gift of Christ, we would celebrate mas. Not much meaning in that, is there?
I love Christmas lights, cookies, music, and yes presents, but I love Jesus more. I used to bake many kinds of cookies, shop, wrap, decorate, make candy, and make myself tired, and stressed. I like now much better. A few decorations, a few gifts, no cookies or candy, more time with the true meaning,of this Holiday.
This year, God has shown me something I never thought of before. What would Jesus want for His Birthday? Jesus wants us to give to others, enjoy our families, and be blessed with good things, including His Grace! Back to my question....what does Jesus want? He desires your heart. Christmas is an ideal time to give Him the gift of YOU! Maybe you gave Him your heart years ago, but maybe you never have. Maybe you are thinking, "What does that even mean?"
It simply means you accept Jesus as your Savior, and your Lord. It has nothing to do with religion, or going to Church. It is about a personal relationship with Jesus. You acknowledge that He is God's son, sent to earth, died on a cross for your sin, and came back to life, and ascended back to Heaven. You ask Him to forgive your sins, and you give Him your heart, your life. He is in control, and will lead you and teach you where He wants you to go. You give all to Him, He has a plan for your life. He will give you a reborn life.
You get to be a child of God, and you are assured your place in Heaven. By giving Jesus your heart today, you receive His gift of Grace. I would love to have you as my brother or sister in Christ, and live in Heaven with you one day. Until that time, I'll just wish you a very Merry Christmas!
Sunday, December 13, 2015
Saturday, December 5, 2015
As I grow older, I have left the hurry, worry scurry of Christmas behind. I will decorate when I have time, I will not worry about getting cards out, or gifts bought and wrapped. I am finally at peace with the true meaning of Christmas. It is a Birthday! The most important birthday ever. He wants me focused on Him, and those He needs me to minister to.
I put up some decorations, but I keep it simple. I buy gift cards, because I don't pretend to know what kids and grandkids want. Am I being selfish? I hope not. I just don't need stuff to celebrate my Jesus' birthday! I would rather focus on spending time with friends and family, just loving each other, and building memories.
One of those memories for many years has been Westside Church Pageant. I don't sing or dance, can't memorize lines, but I do what I can do. I have been blessed to be an animal handler. I love all animals, so this is a great way to be a part of the pageant. Each year we have camels, sheep, goats, chickens, and baby animals. To see children and adults faces light up, when given a chance to see these animals up close, and get to pet them, is a joy. You can hear the audience let out a sigh when the first animal appears.
We have been blessed to make sure children in wheel chairs, or who
This year I also get to be part of the Magi, as we pay tribute to Jesus, and bring Him gifts! In all these presentations, we are brought to the very reason we do this! It is all about Jesus! This fun and time of team work is not about our abilities. It is about God sending His only son to a world deep in sin. We are just the tools God uses to bring His Gospel to the lost!
No matter what your traditions, or how frantic and busy you get this season, it is not about that! God put His plan in place long ago, because He knew we would need help. When we sin, we put ourselves far from God! He is perfect and can not associate with sin! He brought His son, Jesus to this world as a common baby, to grow up into a perfect sacrifice for us. Jesus shed all the blood He had on the cross to cover us, so God would see us as clean. When you take His free gift of salvation, you are clean, you are assured a place in Heaven with God! That is this season for me!
Will you put aside the hurry, the shopping, and the activity to sit quietly at Jesus feet? Will you honor Him, instead of things this Christmas? It's O.K. To do gifts, and decorating, and baking, but don't make them the center of your Christmas! If you make it about Jesus, all the other things will fall into place! May you have a joyful time, and let your memories be of a tiny baby, born to all of us who saves you from your sin!