‘Tis the Season

It’s that most wonderful season of the year! Yes, the lights are out, the tree is up, and the metroplex is in a near panic of shopping and travel.

Did I mention the lights are up?

The Christmas lights I put up for my momma.

I have a love hate relationship with this time of year. I won’t necessarily claim all of the normal arguments, other than to say there are a number of good and right things that get taken to far (ya know food, spending, and bad pop Christmas music).

“Someone Check Focus on That Lens”

A lot of people will set out to “reclaim” Christmas this year for various purposes – chiefly church and family. And yet many of these people are just as bogged down in all the other activities. My take is, it’s not about reclaiming (which means you’ve lost something altogether), but refocusing.

First for Christians should always be to refocus on Christ. One thing I love about The Village is the Advent series they teach every year. The sermons are always new , but the theme is always the same. Look at the hope in Christ first-coming, celebrate his birth and works, and take hope in knowing he will come again.

After that, we have a simple need to refocus on family. I think the misconception here is that we are focused on our family when we’re actually not. We’re focused on getting things for our family, and making trips to go see family, but how often are we actually tuned in to family and friends themselves?

Speaking of family, you could take time to do things like this together.

We dont get much opportunity for snowmen in Central Texas, so we made some snow-4×4-men.

The Things I Love

At the end of the day, this is one of my favorite times of year. There are so many fun activities, Christmas lights, and good food. I’ve come to see the importance of prioritizing this time of year.

And more importantly I’ve come to see the importance of intentionally getting rest this time of year. The parties I enjoyed the least we’re the ones I was most tired at. And of course you can’t catch Santa in the act if you can’t stay awake.

But if I’m well rested, I can enjoy some of my favorite things (listed in no particular order), such as:

  • Christmas lights
  • Parties with good friends
  • Candy canes
  • Christmas cookies
  • Hot cocoa 
  • Funny Santa hats
  • Christmas lights
  • Funny pictures of reindeer 

This is the short list.

Yet none of these are possible without the Lord, and they are only best enjoyed with family and friends.

Merry Christmas Everyone

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke2.10-11 ESV

On the Evidence of Faith…

Reflections during my camping trip at Eisenhower State Park – September 2015

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  

Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)

October 14, 2014 – 7:40 AM.  Everything changes.

In the summer of 2015, I found this lacking.  Drawing close to a year after my father passed, it seemed my faith had all but shriveled up.  “Where was God?” I asked.  “How could a loving, gracious father allow this to happen?”

I think it’s common knowledge – anger is one of the stages of grief.  You typically hear of it being directed toward the person who passed – “How could you leave me?”.  I guess I always felt my dad would have stayed if he could have.

For me all of that anger took a different route.  “How could you Lord!”  I forget that the creator of the universe knows the number of the hairs on my head as well as how many stars stretch across the skies.  I forget that he knows the order of all creation; and sees it past, present and future.

Rather than trusting God, who has all the information to make an “informed decision”, I say “Why on earth would you have ever done that?!?”.  And I forget that he works all things out for His good and His glory.

Instead of holding on to faith that the Lord would see me through this, I doubted his provision.  Instead of finding faith in awaiting that future moment in glory where me and my father would be reunited, I simply turned to anger in “Why  can’t he be here with me now?”.

And as I let my faith diminish in my mind, the draw toward sin grew all the more.  I began to struggle with sins of my past, and at time withdrew from the community I was a part of in the church.  Although I wasn’t at the lowest point I’ve ever been, this felt worse.  Not only did I know better than what I was doing, I’d seen myself better.

But God knows better still.

“But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”

Romans 4:20b (ESV)

The key point I needed to remember was that regardless of how much I fall, how distant I felt, I am still saved by grace, reconciled to God through Christ, and have an identity that cannot be forsaken.  From here I must remember that Christ is the founder and perfecter of my faith (Hebrews 12:2a).  I cannot forget that if I pursue Him, He will give me the faith necessary to run the race.

Right now I find the one piece of evidence of my faith that stands out the most is that even when my natural self wants to forget, there is an inner self that remembers these things to be true.

I must look forward to that day when the Lord returns or calls me home – and remember that I will see my father again.

In Memory of Geronimo Gamez Jr.

February 25, 1956 – October 14, 2014