Monday, December 26, 2016

Oh, Christmas Tree...


Look what I got...


Today is Christmas.  The birth of Christ.  Does anybody remember that, really?  I watched it all unfold around me this year.  I woke up early, wanting to celebrate the birth of Jesus into this world.  I wanted to do it with you.  Oh, I know, you live several hundred miles away from me.  But, still, I wanted to connect with you to share the blessing of this glorious day.  I called you mid-morning.  I didn't want to wake you too early on Christmas Day.  You let the phone go to the answering machine, like you always do.  I thought, maybe, you would answer it today.  It's Christmas...

It really hurt that you didn't answer when I called.  But, then, I tried texting you a couple of hours later.  Young people today, they tell me, prefer to text rather than talk on the phone.  So, I gave it a try. I guess you never saw it.  You didn't answer that either.  I was hurt that, on Christmas Day, you didn't even think of me.  I got mad then and decided I wouldn't bother trying to reach you again.  Who cares, I told myself.  I'm fine all by myself today.  

Your dad called me last night sounding very high on the emotions of the evening.  It was Christmas Eve and he had spent the evening with you all going out to dinner to celebrate before opening gifts. All the girls are home for Christmas.  Nobody called me to ask if I would like to join you.  I probably wouldn't have been able to drive in for it, but, it just hurts that nobody even asked.  Your brother told me how sweet it was back at your dad's house, everyone laughing around the Christmas tree, opening presents and enjoying the family on Christmas Eve.  I'm sure it was lovely.  I wish I had been there.

Christmas Day is drawing to a close for another year.  I have spent the day alone.  Your sister called me this morning before they left for Italy.  They are taking a much deserved one week vacation they have dreamed of for a long time.  I am so happy they are getting to do this.  But, part of me wishes I could just see them today for a few minutes...  I miss all of you so much today.

The phone just rang, as the day is ending.  It was you saying "Merry Christmas."  You couldn't talk. You're on the way to the movies with your family.  Just long enough to exchange Christmas greetings.  I'm sure you're glad you got that out of the way.  Yes, that's how I feel.  I have somehow become an obligation you tend to when you must.  Nothing more.  Do you have any idea how painful that is for me?  You are my daughter that I love. 



I don't understand what has happened anymore.  You have successful jobs that allow you to travel and enjoy life with most of what you want in life.  When you were struggling, I was there for you - I helped you buy the house you raised your children in.  I never envisioned the day I would become just an obligation to avoid to you...

I spent time on Facebook today, since I had a lot of time on my hands.  All the pictures I saw were of beautifully (even, extravagantly) decorated homes with Christmas presents piled so high they obscured the tree.  Usually multiple trees now - that's the latest trend they say - a tree in every room of the house.  These are almost always, gorgeous homes.  The table is set with gorgeous place settings and food beyond imagination.  The stories and pictures tell of the perfect Christmas - "look what I got - just what I wanted!" This, often from the adults.  When I was little, it was all the parents could do to put together a Christmas for the kids.  It was all about the kids.  Not anymore...

I remember if we got one or two things we were hoping for, we were so happy.  Before we opened anything, we went to church to sing to the newborn King.  We all knew what Christmas was all about. Now - not so much...

I miss that.  I miss what really matters at Christmas.  Oh, yes, I must remember, after all the gifts are opened, the food consumed until nobody can eat another bite, somebody adds "Happy Birthday, Jesus."  It's more of an afterthought, I think.  I don't think Jesus is listening.  He is weeping over what is taking place in His name. And so am I...

Note to the reader:  This is a heartfelt story of what it feels like to be forgotten on Christmas - to be left alone while the rest of the family is celebrating.  It's brutally painful.  No one should be alone at Christmas, and many, many people are.  Even more than that, it's about what Christmas has become in an overly self-centered, materialistic society, that pretends to care, and even, pretends that Christmas is still about Christ.  For the most part, that is not really true anymore, and I think we all know it.  We need to repent that we have allowed the culture to steal the Birth of Christ and turn it into one of the most pagan celebrations of the year.  I believe this grieves the heart of God. Sometimes, the truth hurts.  But, we need to face the truth, or we will never deal with it.  As the Church, we need to bow before God and ask Him to forgive us for our selfishness and idol worship of Christmas.  That's not what He intended it to be.  God forgive us and bring us back to the true meaning of Christmas... 






Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Take Every Thought...

to make it obedient to Christ...
2 Corinthians 10:5


You might, as I have in the past, read these verses and decide this is impossible. But, it has been impressed upon me, over and over again, just how important it is to control our thoughts - this is why God commands us to do just that.  It is in the battlefield of the mind that we win or lose the day.  If we battle depression, low self-esteem, thoughts of suicide, we can be sure our thoughts are at the root of the battle.  

I believe it is because the stakes are so high for us and for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that God is so specific in commanding us to capture our thoughts in this way.  God knows that this is where the enemy gains a foothold in our lives and can destroy the future He has planned for us; our hope in Him; our joy in life; our peace; our sense of being loved, even our desire to continue living.  God knows the depth and danger of allowing our thoughts to rule over us rather than Christ.  Clearly, this is an area of enormous significance in our lives.  We ignore this scriptural admonition, truly, to our own peril.  

God directs our thoughts to those things that are healthy and life giving in our lives.  He doesn't leave us alone to figure this out - He makes it very clear how we should control our thoughts.  


You may be thinking, well that's fine for somebody else, if they can do it, but, I have a lot of stress in my life.  I just lost my job, my husband left me, I can't pay the rent, I am grieving the loss of my true love, I am seriously depressed, I want to give up... and on and on.  These are real issues that many people are dealing with.  These are the times when controlling our thoughts is vitally important.  If we allow the enemy to control our thoughts, he will.  We will find ourselves sinking deeper and deeper into depression, feeling helpless, all alone in dealing with the problem, ready to give up, potentially, even suicidal.  We cannot allow our minds to run off on their own - someone will control our thoughts - either God or Satan.


I have a good friend and Christian Counselor who often asks me "Who told you that?"  In other words, ask yourself where that thought came from - is it from God, or is it from Satan?  It is essential to identify who is speaking to you through your thoughts. God will never reject you, never give up on you, never put you down, never, never, never lead you to thoughts of suicide.  If you are entertaining those kind of thoughts, STOP.  Take those thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ!  To not do so could give the enemy of your soul power in your life that God never intends or wants for you.  Satan is called the Father of Lies, the Destroyer, the Deceiver, the Thief...  He will lie to you about you or anyone else in your life, he will destroy everything that matters in your life, including you, he will steal your joy, your hope, your faith in God, your future...



God speaks love into your life, not hate; life not death; hope not despair; peace, not anxiety...  If you are not in the Word of God, do yourself a favor and get into it.  You will find life and healing for your soul.  It is through the Word of God that you will renew your mind. (Romans 12:2)


If you are not sure where to begin in this area, I encourage you to ask God to help you identify your thoughts and to "take them captive to the obedience of Christ..."


Challenge your thoughts - do not just accept them blindly - you have control over your thoughts - exercise that control!  If you are having destructive thoughts, ask yourself where they come from - is that from God or from Satan?  Be ruthless about rejecting any thoughts that are not from God about you or your life or, about God, Himself.  Please don't take this lightly.  Your life could depend on it, especially if you are struggling just to hold on another day.

I plan to do a mini-series on what the truth is that God speaks to us from His Word, vs. the lies the enemy speaks to us.  In the meantime, I pray God leads you to His Word, illuminates your thoughts to be His thoughts for you, and helps you in the battle to "take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ..."2 Corinthians 10:5