This Thanksgiving time was wonderful – great time with family and friends and a notable time around the table sharing what we are thankful for about God and what blessings we enjoy. It was a great time and my coke-based turkey turned out pretty good (I mentioned this recipe the Sunday before Thanksgiving…you can listen again or for the first time online at www.cypresschurch.net). As I spent time over the turkey and meal preparations, I found myself very thankful for you! I was thanking God for sending our family to this church and for growing in love and fellowship with wonderful people like you! So thank you for being a part of our lives and for those of you who attend Cypress Church. This is a fun, vibrant, growing, and thriving church full of the Holy Spirit, oozing with God’s love, and a place where the life changing message of Jesus is proclaimed.
Although this was a wonderful Thanksgiving time, as I was driving home from celebrating my son’s birthday that Friday I turned into our housing track and a flood of stress, anxiety, and frustration came over me. There, right before me, was my neighbor PUTTING UP HIS CHRISTMAS LIGHTS! I had not even thought of it yet. Was it already that time? I think I was ahead of things last year. Why didn’t I prepare? When am I going to find the time? I know I’m being a bit dramatic, but I was overwhelmed at yet more stuff to do and feeling a little stressed out from the scene. So for this past week each night I have been carving out some time to put up the modest display we usually do, all the while being mocked by my neighbor’s elaborate conglomeration of lights and signs and colors and such.
The other night I almost fell off the ladder as I dropped the hammer and hit my finger trying to secure an extension cord to the wall. I let the stress and frustrations get the best of me and yelled out a big “Aaaahhh COME ON!” then started to laugh. I realized I had let the stress and frustration of the season overtake me rather then the hope, peace, joy, and love of all that this season reminds us of. So, I mentally shifted gears and started to think of all the great things about Christmas like the joy of our Savior, the peace He brought to my life, the love of God our family shares, the hope of heaven, and the beauty of God providing His only Son to be a sacrifice for our sin. And wow, who cares if the hammer hit my foot as it dropped. So with joy and a song in my heart I set about to the fun of bringing light to my neighborhood in Jesus’ name!
Shifting gears mentally is not always easy because we tend to be pessimistic and love to dwell on the negative. It’s our natural sin bent. So to get out of that rut we have to choose to set our minds on things above.
Colossians 3:1-2 NIV Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
So this Christmas season when those stress-filled frustrating feelings begin to overtake you, shift your mental gears and choose to think on all that Christmas really means. Think of God’s gift to us, think of Jesus, think of all He brings to life, think of how awesome and wonderful and glorious and gracious and merciful and kind and…you continue on.
Philippians 4:8 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable– if anything is excellent or praiseworthy– think about such things.
Despite the rough and difficult times, despite the crummy condition of our world and despite the struggles we each face this is going to be a Christmas full of wonder and amazement as we experience the celebration of Jesus.
I am glad we are going to be celebrating together. I hope to see you each Sunday as we are challenged to Reach Christmas. I encourage you to bring some friends to the Christmas Extravaganza this Sunday (12/5) at 5:45pm for caroling (I love that part) and/or at 7:30pm for dessert and fun. As well, we have the Community Christmas Worship Concert (12/19) at 4:30pm and 7:00pm and of course the Christmas Eve services at 4:30pm and 7:00pm. I encourage you to attend these and also use them as opportunities to bring your friends, family, and people you work and live around.
Reaching Christmas with you,