Monday, December 20, 2010

Monitoring the Overflow of the Heart

As I sit down in my desk chair (finally!) to finish this post...I pray this finds you well, and full of Joy this Christmas!

We've all done it...had a lingering thought about it. You know, that fantasy where the you run into the person person who has wronged you (looking your best- also kids are perfectly behaving) and you have just the right thing to say to make them feel as small as possible. Or worse, you get the opportunity to actually take the shot and proceed.

Ewww. Then it hits you (ah hum, me). Well, then they hit me, rather. "They" being the many thing coming out of my heart in this scenario of uglies.

First, and most striking, is... ouch, yuck and how did that get there?! What is coming out of my heart Lord!  As I realize, dear friend, that my thoughts... and especially my words are not just random floaties with no undercurrent riding on the Diet Coke of life.  James 2 anyone?

In fact, Jesus tells us, "For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of" in Luke 6:45b. 
So if my mouth says something nasty...there is nasty in my heart?  Seriously that simple?!  That's what He said, and He is ever-correct.

So then, could it be that old saying, "I didn't mean it!" sometimes really means "I didn't want that to come out that way!"; or "Oh my, I've obviously got unresolved messiness in the heart!"; and maybe most important, "I need to reach to my God, Healer and Provider... and did I say fast?!"

Instead of living condemned by our untimely, hurtful words, let's allow those little uglies be the very things that drive us into our hearts- and into the One who leads us to forgiveness, peace and cleanliness of the heart. Not an excuse for sin, a replacement for repentance, but a means of heart level, course-correction.

You know, the overflow of the heart can be one of the most beautiful pictures of heaven on earth, where earnest forgiveness, blessing, and encouragement all flow.  Where we commune together, bearing with one another...I think we have all been on the receiving end of such love at least once.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

LIFE in Christmas Pt. 2: What's the Point?

In these busy days filled with shopping, cooking, eating the cooking, parties (not to mention regular work days and/or managing our homes and families) I have to ask the question…why?  Why the running, the excessive sweets and full calendars?  Seriously, as basic as it sounds… sometimes it is to basics we must return.

I have to remind myself, not to mention my little one, about the famed baby, the ‘reason for the season’.  The God incarnate, Jesus Christ, came, fully God, fully man, to live among humanity in perfection on this Christmas Day!  Rejoice, Rejoice! Emmanuel has come to the Oh Israel!  (you know the song)  This is our Christ, whom we profess as Lord, if we know Him, destined to die on a cross as a payment for all sins, for all man kind, to be raised from the dead, and conquer death once and for all!

Whew!  Praise this King of Kings!  Can you picture the scene of our God in a manger? Can you imagine what Mary and Joseph must have been thinking?  I must wonder what angelic music must have resounded… as they rejoiced in seeing God’s deliverance take human flesh.

SO THEN fellow Christmas Fighter, how do we carry this glory message with us in the Christmas season?  We must remain intentional, or we will surely drown in the ocean of holiday demands.

Here are some tips I hope and pray will help us all (myself included!):
  • Turn off the TV and Read through Luke chapter 2 as a family.  Oh my word, good stuff people.  Bring on the tissues.
  • Take a little time and money to give to a charity as a family and share together about God’s love.  For example, this year, Alice and I made a box for Operation Christmas Child for a girl her age.  It was such fun and she really got to connect with giving…so precious.
  • Bake a batch of Christmas cookies for that neighbor who drives you nuts, and talk through forgiveness and God’s love together. (Luke 6)
  • Have your kids act out different characters from the Christmas story…Mary, shepherds, wise men…etc.  Maybe you can even get your husband to be your choice of barn animal :) ?
  • Clean out old toys as a family and donate them to families in need, praying over the toys as you go and the children who will be blessed by them!
  • Try giving each of your children a couple of dollars in quarters and allowing them to give to various holiday collections they choose, and then take time talk about it as a family.  Ex: How did that make you feel?  How do you think that blessed God’s heart?
  • Check out this poem to go along with a piece M&M candy…share it together over a bag one night!

    Tell the poem as you hold these candies in your hand and as you turn them, you will see the M becomes a W, an E and a 3.

M&M Nativity
      By Pam Ridenour (I think, correct me if I'm wrong)

They tell the Christmas story,
it's one I'm sure you know,
It took place in a stable,
a long, long time ago.

The E is for the East where the star shines so bright.

The M is for the Manger
where baby Jesus slept that night.

The 3 is for the wise men bearing gifts,
with haste they came.

W is for Worship, angels sang praise to His name.

So as you eat these candies
or share them with a friend,
Remember the true spirit of Christmas
and never let it end!