Christmas is Almost Here…!

It’s finally time for another edition of My Monday Morning Cup. Ok, you’re right. It’s really more like Monday Afternoon Cup, but hey I got busy with some other stuff this morning. And I’m drinking decaf. Does that even count???

Christmas Day will be here a week from tomorrow. That means 2018 is about over and done. Wow. Let that sink in for a moment. What are you most grateful for as you look back at this past year? Maybe you are one of those folks who doesn’t take time to reminisce but squarely sets your sights forward. If that’s the case, what great things are you anticipating will come your way in 2019?

My Monday AM Cup

I roll off the Board of Directors of the Writers Guild of Texas in a few days. I’m looking forward to spending some more focused time writing. I’m targeting finishing my devotional book in the next couple of months. I call it a devotional book although it won’t really be a traditional devotional. It’s more of a spiritual formation book—one of my favorite undergrad classes taught by Dr. Jan Daehnert during my time at DBU.

A few months ago, we landed on a new worship leader at church and I’m looking forward to what God will do through our worship team. I’m also looking forward to building my skills as a player.

In a few days, I’ll start a new gig which I hope to tell you more about in the days and weeks ahead. So I’m grateful for God granting me a new work opportunity and excited to see what the Lord does through this new chapter of my God-story.

Sweet T and I celebrated 10 years of matrimony this last October. I’m certainly grateful for that and I’m definitely thankful for her. I’m blessed to have her as a partner in this journey. We first met 18 years ago, after surviving Y2K. Remember Y2K?

I’m always grateful for family and lifelong friends, many of whom I’ve been able to reconnect with this past year, thanks to social media. Helping people connect is one of the cooler aspects of technology.

That’s just my list. What about you? Care to share what you’re grateful for in 2018 as you look ahead to 2019?  I’d love it if you would.

Blessings,

The Devotional Guy™

 

Daily Scripture | 12.14.2018

Psalm 119 105

How has your week been? Me—I’ve been praying through some things, seeking God’s direction and wisdom. Where do you go to find those things? I have learned to lean on the Word because it informs and instructs me when I’m not sure what to do or which direction to go. Sometimes, I get confused, living this Christian life in 21st Century America. Doesn’t it seem like our cultural Christian mantras go against the grain of what Scripture teaches us? For instance, we’ve all heard it said that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle. Yet, that’s really not reflected in Scripture, is it? No, the people in Scripture often face things beyond their ability to handle. In those instances, we see them turn to God. Psalms is a great example of that. David, the major contributor to the book of Psalms, cries out repeatedly to God for help in numerous Psalms. We need God. I need Him every day. If you’re like me–and chances are you might be–than you need Him every day too. During those times, one of the places we can turn to for reliable guidance is the Word that He left to dwell among us in the form of the Bible.

Blessings,

The Devotional Guy™

Christ, not Claus | A Christmas Harangue

This past weekend, Sweet T and I had the opportunity to check out a Christmas program at one of the local churches in our neighborhood. During the performance, a couple sitting next to us noted that “they sure are singing a lot of secular Christmas songs. Where are the church songs?” The show, which had started with a manger scene, ended with a brief plea by the pastor to not lose sight of the real meaning of Christmas amid all the regular holiday festivities. While the individuals performing in the show did a magnificent job, I left scratching my head about the intent and focus of the show.

ha·rangue

[həˈraNG]

NOUN
  1. a lengthy and aggressive speech.
    synonyms:
    tirade · lecture · diatribe · homily · polemic · rant · fulmination · broadside · verbal attack · verbal onslaught · invective · criticism · berating · censure · admonition · reproval · admonishment · exhortation · declamation · oration · peroration · speech · talk · address · sermon · tongue-lashing · spiel · pep talk · philippic · obloquy

Last year, at another big church in our area, Sweet T and I witnessed a Broadway-style production involving thousands of volunteers and what I imagine a very healthy budget. The show spent about an hour focused on secular Christmas traditions, complete with all the trimmings and an airborne Santa Claus flying onto the stage in his sleigh. That transitioned into a more traditional focus on the story of the Incarnation and the First Advent of Jesus, Son of God.

Don’t get me wrong; I love me some Santa Claus.

To be clear, I get that come December there are a lot of different holiday traditions that are celebrated in 21st America. Growing up, December was all about Christmas. And yes, I understand that we have a mix of Christmas traditions that focus on gift-giving, Saint Nick, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Old Tannenbaum. And you know what—that’s all ok. In fact, I love me some Santa Claus and Jingle Bells.

So, what’s my problem?

I expect the one place that we would keep Christ in Christmas is church.

christmas harangue

After nearly 90 minutes of barely mentioning Jesus—IN CHURCH–and hoisting Santa on a HUGE golden throne, the plea to not lose sight of the real meaning of Christmas likely fell on dumbfounded ears.

After all the uproar a few years ago about saying “Merry Christmas” and “keeping Christ in Christmas” in public domains, have we the church succumbed to touting the Claus while barely giving a head nod to God taking form in human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ? Old Saint Nick can surely be heard crying “Say it ain’t so…?”

If we, the church, aren’t boasting of Christ during Christmastime, who then?

Again, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with presents under the Christmas tree, going caroling, or celebrating all our other family Christmas traditions. Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is a fantastic story. Yet, it pales in comparison to the Birth of Christ. And Christ should be our focus during this season. After all, He truly is the reason for the season. If nowhere else, foremost among the body of believers who call us by His name. For us Christians, Christ should always stand front and center. But especially during the season celebrating His Advent. After all, 2,000+ years ago, those Wise Men weren’t navigating the desert in search of Kris Kringle.

Blessings,

The Devotional Guy™

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