Hey! It’s Christmas Day!

“This Gospel anticipates a world far different from C.S. Lewis’s Narnia,where it is “always winter, and never Christmas.” But the promise of the Gospel is that it is always Christmas. To be “in Christ” is to enjoy each morning as a Christmas morning with the family of God, celebrating the gift of God around the tree of life.”

–Kevin Van Hoozer

Christmas can be a torment and tribulation for so many. I have no doubt it brings grief. Family, friends, finances– mixed liberally with heavy doses of materialism and manipulation will always bring us issues.  The music and decorations are mostly mere Novocaine (which doesn’t always work). Stress builds up. And we want none of that.

Being mentally or physically ill often accentuates these issues. I’m not sure why exactly, but suicide increases during this season. Perhaps the challenges Christmas brings just overwhelm a person who is struggling hard just to make it.

“Christmas is for children. But it is for grown-ups too. Even if it is a headache, a chore, and a nightmare, it is a period of necessary defrosting of chilled hidebound hearts.”  

–Lenora Mattingly Weber

As I think about Christmas, it is helpful for me to see it as a “mirror.” It is my reflection back to me. What we see, is who we are. If we have issues in our own life, the Season will just magnify them.  But this doesn’t mean its bad, far from it. There is always conflict, but this spiritual combat can bring us success. Some things must be fought for.

I’m convinced that in all of this, there is opportunity.  The chance to connect to “Christmas”. The very idea is quite strange.  But Christmas can be an exquisite treat.  It is made by mixing love and truth in generous portions. As we look hard for it, there is something that moves us to a place far beyond us. Grace makes us to stand and look, perhaps for the first time.

When we truly process this, we’ll find “Christmas”. And honestly, it is more than a holiday. For the Christian, it is special time. And yes, there will be times when it may be trying, but I cannot think Christmas has become a time of great joy and anticipation.

It won’t take much, maybe a little imagination on your part. But those things you do may ignite and become a blaze that will direct them through their lives. Be kinder then you need to.

“The universal joy of Christmas is certainly wonderful. We ring the bells when princes are born, or toll a mournful dirge when great men pass away. Nations have their red-letter days, their carnivals and festivals, but once in the year and only once, the whole world stands still to celebrate the advent of a life. Only Jesus of Nazareth claims this world-wide, undying remembrance. You cannot cut Christmas out of the Calendar, nor out of the heart of the world.”   

Anonymous

bry-signat (1)

Some Christmas Advice

Christmas is my most favorite time of the year.  I was raised in the northern part of Wisconsin, and my most valuable and tenderest recollections are my Christmases.  I was raised in a Norwegian Lutheran church (Lutefisk?!) Many memories flow from that; the cold, the snow and the tree and the presents.  I have been made a ‘rich’ man through all of these great memories.

I remember our annual Nativity play at Church. I remember the sticky, carmelly ‘popcorn ball’ each one of the kids would get from the church ladies aid.  I also remember a very bleak Christmas when there was no money to be had for presents. A local charity came through at the last minute with gifts. I was profoundly touched by all of this, and more. Even when it was bad, it was still good.

I have no real way of instilling any of this to you.  Each of us has what we have, and we must make it work.  But I do exhort you, go out of your way to touch the young hearts you have contact with.  Help them believe.  Make it easy for them to touch Christmas magic.  Let them leave your presence yearning for God’s presence in this day.

It won’t take much, maybe a little imagination on your part.  But those things you do may ignite and become a blaze that will direct them through their lives.  Be kinder then you need to.  Do things that will impact them, even small things often carry an astonishingly strong influence.

You may be in the thick of it. You have “lost” the purpose and meaning of this day. But I’m pretty sure it isn’t permanent. But at least, try to do what you can.

ybic, Bryan

cropped-christiangraffiti1.jpg

 

A Lutefisk History – Lutefisk Recipe (Lyefish) http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/LutefiskHistory.htm

A Dangerous Prayer That Was Answered

A Special Christmas Memory

Scene 1 October, 1978. A shopping center parking lot in Indianapolis, before stores opened. The place I chose for an extended quiet time with the Lord.

Having recently resigned an associate church staff position, God’s Spirit convicted me of pride, and the need for a more others-centered ministry in my next vocational role. With grave sincerity and through tears, I pleaded, “Lord, give me a servant heart.”

Scene 2 Late November 1978. My dad, 59, was rapidly declining due to kidney failure. I spoke with his physician from the V. A. hospital in Durham, North Carolina. “Your dad doesn’t have long,” he insisted. “Perhaps just a few weeks. Besides, your mom desperately needs some rest and could use your help.”

Totally bedridden, dad didn’t want nurses or orderlies taking care of his most intimate needs, such as emptying his bedpan and cleaning him.

Scene 3 December 2-4, 1978. Friday, I flew to Durham and rented a motel room, where mom could rest. She’d been trying to sleep for weeks in his hospital room. For three nights, I took her place in dad’s room. During the day, we took turns caring for him. A bad plague of diarrhea exacerbated his need for mundane assistance. Throughout those three days and nights, he repeatedly called for the bedpan.

Though physically helpless, dad’s mind was clear. We enjoyed numerous chats about life and my future ministry plans.

Scene 4 Near sunrise, Monday December 4, 1978. A few hours before my return flight to Indiana. In all my 29 years, I couldn’t remember feeling so weary. At least hourly throughout that last night, dad called for the bedpan. I felt numb, listless from lack of sleep. My head pounded. When I finally fell asleep just before daylight, again I heard, “Son, I need the bedpan.”

That was the last straw. Though I loved my dad fiercely, I silently thought, “No! Not again!” Selfishness marked my attitude. I wasn’t moved by compassion for dad’s discomfort. I was annoyed by my own discomfort. But as I lumbered the few steps to his bed, I heard a clear, out-of-the-blue whisper from God’s Spirit: “Terry, I’m answering your prayer. Remember that servant heart you prayed for?”

When I finished the cleanup, that’s the time dad chose to look at me and say, with heartfelt gratitude, “Son, I’m sorry you have to do this. But you are even gentler with me than your mom. I really appreciate your coming.”

I leaned over toward dad’s face, smiled, and said with all honesty, “It’s a privilege to serve you, dad. I love you!”

Be careful what you pray for.

Dad entered the presence of Jesus on Christmas Day, in the same room—ironically, with me asleep in the chair beside his bed.

At first I thought, “No, Lord—not on Christmas Day. Why did You take him today of all days? Now this holiday will forever be tainted by the memory of his passing.”

Then God’s Spirit reversed my thinking. “What better gift could I give your dad than an end to his pain, and welcome him with open arms into My forever presence?!”

Before I told the nurse on duty that dad had died, I whispered, “Merry Christmas, Dad.”

What is your favorite Christmas memory?

 

your brother,

Terry

Terry teaches in the areas of Church Ministry and Ministry Leadership at Columbia International University in South Carolina. He has served as a Christian Education staff member for three  churches, and he’s a licensed preacher in the Presbyterian Church of America.  His current books in print are Serve Strong:  Biblical Encouragement to Sustain God’s Servants, and  Now That’s Good A Question!  How To Lead Quality Bible Discussions. Terry has been married for 46 years, and has two sons, a daughter-in-law, one grandson, and a dachshund.  His constant prayer is, “Lord, make me half the man my dog thinks I am!”

Check out his blog at https://penetratingthedarkness.com/. His ministry is focused on Christians experiencing clinical  depression and other mental issues.

Christmas Carols for the Psychiatrically Challenged

 

 “A cheerful heart is good medicine,
    but a broken spirit saps a        person’s strength.”

Proverbs 17:22, NLT

SCHIZOPHRENIA

– Do You Hear What I Hear?

 

MULTIPLE PERSONALITY

– We Three Kings Disoriented Are

 

DEMENTIA

– I Think I’ll Be Home For Christmas

 

NARCISSISTIC

– Hark The Herald Angels Sing (About Me)

 

BIPOLAR MANIA

– Deck the Halls and Walls and House and Lawn and Streets and Stores and Office and Town …or Deck the Halls and Spare No Expense!

 

PARANOIA

– Santa Claus is Coming To Get Me

 

BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER

– You Better Watch Out, I’m Gonna Cry, I’m Gonna Pout, then MAYBE I’ll tell you why.

 

OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE

– Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock…

 

PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE

– On the First Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to M(and then took it all away).

 

bry-signat (2)

cropped-christiangraffiti1.jpg

 

This Special Place, Where it is Always Christmas

“This Gospel anticipates a world far different from C.S. Lewis’s Narnia,where it is “always winter, and never Christmas.” But the promise of the Gospel is that it is always Christmas. To be “in Christ” is to enjoy each morning as a Christmas morning with the family of God, celebrating the gift of God around the tree of life.”

–Kevin Van Hoozer

Christmas can be a torment and tribulation for so many. I have no doubt it brings grief. Family, friends, finances– mixed liberally with heavy doses of materialism and manipulation will always bring us issues.  The music and decorations are mostly mere Novocaine (which doesn’t always work). Stress builds up. And we want none of that.

Being mentally or physically ill often accentuates these issues. I’m not sure why exactly, but suicide increases during this season. Perhaps the challenges Christmas brings just overwhelm a person who is struggling hard just to make it.

“Christmas is for children. But it is for grown-ups too. Even if it is a headache, a chore, and a nightmare, it is a period of necessary defrosting of chilled hidebound hearts.”  

–Lenora Mattingly Weber

As I think about Christmas, it is helpful for me to see it as a “mirror.” It is my reflection back to me. What we see, is who we are. If we have issues in our own life, the Season will just magnify them.  But this doesn’t mean its bad, far from it. There is always conflict, but this spiritual combat can bring us success. Some things must be fought for.

I’m convinced that in all of this, there is opportunity.  The chance to connect to “Christmas”. The very idea is quite strange.  But Christmas can be an exquisite treat.  It is made by mixing love and truth in generous portions. As we look hard for it, there is something that moves us to a place far beyond us. Grace makes us to stand and look, perhaps for the first time.

When we truly process this, we’ll find “Christmas”. And honestly, it is more than a holiday. For the Christian, it is special time. And yes, there will be times when it is trying, but in my own thinking, Christmas has become a time of great joy and anticipation.

It won’t take much, maybe a little imagination on your part. But those things you do may ignite and become a blaze that will direct them through their lives. Be kinder then you need to.

“The universal joy of Christmas is certainly wonderful. We ring the bells when princes are born, or toll a mournful dirge when great men pass away. Nations have their red-letter days, their carnivals and festivals, but once in the year and only once, the whole world stands still to celebrate the advent of a life. Only Jesus of Nazareth claims this world-wide, undying remembrance. You cannot cut Christmas out of the Calendar, nor out of the heart of the world.”   

Anonymous

bry-signat (1)

Let’s Get Loud! [Get Ready for Christmas]

“Today your Savior was born in the town of David. He is Christ, the Lord.12 This is how you will know him: You will find a baby wrapped in pieces of cloth and lying in a feeding box.”

 13 Then a very large group of angels from heaven joined the first angel, praising God and saying:
 14 “Give glory to God in heaven,
       and on earth let there be peace among the people who please God.”

Luke 2:11-14, NCV

How very busy things get.  Think of it, shepherds are meeting singing angels who are meeting people.  It must of been a bit of a zoo!  It’s verse 13 that, ‘a very large group of angels’ made their entrance that night.  History is being made, no doubt.  And these are not quiet, or stoic angels, they are large and musical and filled with much joy.

And as happy as this angel-crowd gets,  it doesn’t phase them that the God in heaven, now in human flesh has been born in a manger.  Every angel, and almost every person sees this too; that this is not the place to have babies!  Angels being angels, I kind of think they were not thrilled with the hospitality shown to God.  (They probably said some ‘un-angelical’ things under their breath).

So, you see this swarm of angels descend on the Nativity.  And they are ecstatic, belting out at the top of their lungs, songs of worship and praise.  The squalid environment isn’t a problem for them at all.  The cow manure, sheep feces, filthy straw can all be smelled, but that means nothing at this moment.

Friends, my heart is very much like this dirty stable.  Everything is so filthy, and the smell makes my eye’s water, and the flies are thick and intrusive.  It is all so sad, and pathetic.  There are many others with clean, white hearts, why should He choose my heart to abide?

The choir is singing now, and I think I missed my cue.  But all of them are in deep, wonderous worship.  They belt it out with the enthusiasm of rabid fans at a NFL game.  But I examine my heart, I see so many issues, some things that are actually destroying me.  But the angels, well, they just keep singing.

I know Christmas is still several weeks away. Yet this is the time to prepare for a special holiday in your heart. May this year be the most meaningful time you’ve ever had.

1brobry-sig4 (2)

cropped-christiangraffiti1-3

A Warm Christmas Fire

fireplace-ytgifs-o

Merry Christmas from Bryan at Brokenbelievers.com!

(Sit and enjoy the fire. Have some ‘egg nog.’)

flourish15

 

The people who walk in darkness
    will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness,
    a light will shine
.”

Isaiah 9:2

“Who can add to Christmas? The perfect motive is that God so loved the world. The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son. The only requirement is to believe in Him. The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life”.  –Corrie Ten Boom

“The Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as this truth of the Incarnation.”   — J.I. Packer

bry-signat (1)

cropped-christiangraffiti1.jpg