Archive for December, 2010

imageChristmas is in just a few days, but I am not gonna talk about that.  Can we just chat a bit instead?  I wanna get in your heart for a minute.

At a restaurant this weekend, I witnessed an obvious family argument.  It was such that it literally stopped all conversation around it as people watched the drama unfold.  The end result of it was that it unsettled the attitudes and the hearts of many people around them and literally sucked the joy from the room for a moment.  It was sad to see, and it spread grief to others so quickly.  For a moment, it made my heart heavy, and at Christmas time, that really annoyed me!

I have mentioned this before, but my good friend and pastor Jay Hanson is often heard asking the question, “What is the condition of your heart?”.  I want to ask that question of each of you today, and I want you to think of it in terms of what is deep inside, especially during this holiday season.  Jay asks a couple of companion questions as well:

-    Is your heart glad (light) or sad (heavy)?
-    Why?
-    Has someone hurt your heart?
-    Have you hurt someone else’s heart?

These simple questions can help you get closer to where you are in your spiritual life, and understand how your own heart condition can affect those around you.  By stopping and examining what is really in your heart as only you can do, you can make incredible progress spiritually and relationally.  If you do this examination on a regular basis, you can approach most things with a calm sense of peace that will take you to all the right places and decisions.  Discuss the condition of your heart with God regularly.  You will never hear anything from him except the truth, and he is the Great Healer of hearts.  I love this verse from Proverbs:

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV):
Above all else, guard your heart,  for everything you do flows from it.

As we all get ready to celebrate Christmas, approach it with a healthy heart, and guard it jealously!  If you work on getting that healthy, just think of all the hearts that will be uplifted – just because you made sure yours was light.

Merry Christmas – may God grant you a light and merry heart this year!

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imageMirrors give off a reflection.  I bet you knew that already.  Why do we use mirrors?  Because we do not have the ability to clearly see an image of ourselves OR see what is behind us.  Christmas is a time of reflection.  It is a time when we stop, look into the mirror of the past, pause, think about the birth of Christ and what it means, and celebrate it with family and friends.  Okay–so that’s not anything original, right?  Well, let me give you a new way to think about it.

Every day we make decisions that can change our path for the better or for the worse.  Every conversation can strengthen a relationship or can tear it apart. During EVERY season of our lives, we should always take time to reflect.  We should stop periodically and examine where we are, take a look in that virtual mirror and see where we have been, where our decisions and actions have taken us.  Have you ever said or done anything and later found out it was the wrong thing or that it caused pain?  You found that out by reflecting, probably.  If you had never looked in a mirror of memories, you would not have realized it or had been able to see it clearly.  But, what do you do with your reflections?

Let me approach this another way and show you how to get even more value from reflection.  Since I am a computer guy, I think in computer terms sometimes.  In computer science, "reflection" is the process by which a computer program can observe and modify its own structure and behavior.  Did you catch that?  "Observe AND modify its behavior".  Ahhh, that offers a different perspective on reflections doesn’t it?  What if we did that in our lives every day.  What if we looked into the mirror of our past actions, and used what we saw to modify our behavior for tomorrow?  I’m not sure about you, but I have made some bad decisions in my past, and I really do not care to repeat them.  But, if I reflect on them and use that examination to modify my behavior, I bet that I will not make the same mistakes as easily.

So don’t pass through this Christmas season missing some really good results of your reflection.  Look at your family and reflect on how much time you have given them this year. Look at your job and decide how you may want to modify your behavior to be a better employee.  Look at the birth of Christ in the inner reflective mirror of your soul, and decide if you need to modify your spiritual disciplines as a result of that.

Life is a great thing.  Don’t pass through it without reflection – and modification.

imageWell, it is about this time each year that we all get into the old battle of Christmas.  You know what I mean, it’s that honest desire to get back to what the holiday truly means, while all the while fighting the tide of commercialism, the “requirement” to get everyone on your list a gift (whether you really want to or not) and all the other miscellaneous society induced requirements of it all.  Are you as tired of it as I am?  Then I have a suggestion for you.  Read on.

Christmas is a fun time for a lot of reasons.  I know a lot of people like to do the shopping thing, enjoy all the lights, the parties, the tree, etc.  There is nothing wrong with liking all those things.  But (you knew it was coming, right) – how do we get back to that somewhere in your heart buried desire to truly connect to and honor the “reason for the season”?  I have a suggestion for you, and it fits nicely with this month’s theme we are doing at The Chapel on “Simplify”. 

Quit fighting the battle.  Just quit fighting – I mean it.  Quit trying to make this season be all about one process or another and simplify it by separating the two.  Address each area in its own right, but do not confuse or lose either one.  I know you are going to buy gifts, do the tree, and decorate the house.  That’s fine – do it to the best of your ability and budget, and enjoy the festivity of it all.   BUT, be very deliberate about intentionally making a plan to celebrate the birth of Christ and what that means to us all.  How you do it is up to you, but JUST DO IT in a meaningful and simple way with your family.

Need suggestions?  Well, you could do a daily reading, you could read about the songs of christmas, or how about spending time reading about the various traditions and how most all of them sprang from some religious beginning, yet have become so commercial.  Whatever your topic (Google is your friend here folks), just make a plan and DO IT.  I’m betting it will help you recover some of the lost effort of truly worshipping during this season, and possibly even relieve some of the stress.  Whether it is a daily time, a weekly time, or just a topic this year, just do it.

Make a plan – then let us know what that plan is and I will share it with others in a future blog post.  Tell me what you did, what you discovered and what God told you during this time.  It will help us all.  You can just post a paragraph on the one thing you will do this year.  Let’s see how many people take the challenge and what ideas we come up with!  Will you?????

I’m waiting for your post.