Statistics say that 40 to 45% of American adults will make one or more resolutions this new year. 34% will set resolutions related to money, 38% will set resolutions related to weight, 47% will set resolutions related to self-improvement or education and 31% will set resolutions related to relationships. So less than half of us will even make them…but how will that less that half do about KEEPING them? Again, statistics bear out that 75% will still be keeping their resolution past the first week, 71% will make it past 2 weeks, the number will be down to 64% after one month, and after 6 months only 46% of that original 45% will still be keeping their resolutions.
I don’t know about you, but 2010 has been a pretty big year in my life and the lives of my family. Among the biggest things that happened to us involved our two boys. My oldest son graduated from college this spring. Wow! How did THAT happen? I swear it was just a few days ago that he was a pre-schooler, running around pretending to be a superhero. Now…he’s “all growed up”! We went from supporting him as he went through college (and PAYING for college!) to trying to schedule times when he can come home for the weekend or we can go and see him. It’s hard to believe…and adjust to.
I am a big fan of adventure movies, and one of my favorite movie characters of all time is Indiana Jones. In Raiders of the Lost Ark (the 1st and best of the series, followed pretty closely by The Last Crusade, with The Temple of Doom and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull tied at a relatively distant 3rd!) Indy meets up with Marion Ravenwood, a long-lost love. After a…stormy…reunion, she says to him, “You’re not the man I knew 10 years ago.” To which he replies, “It’s not the years, honey- it’s the mileage!”
I LOVE Christmas music! I really do! I have shared before that the 2 radio stations I listen to most- one a contemporary Christian station and the other a classic rock station- both go to Christmas music 24/7 beginning on Thanksgiving Day. I then spend the next month driving my family absolutely CRAZY. The radio goes on the moment I get up, and it is on basically all day! I have heard more Christmas music this season than I thought actually existed! And therein lies the rub!
What was the BEST gift YOU got this Christmas? When the Nicholas Cage movie National Treasure first came out, we went to see it. (My boys and I love a good, relatively implausible action movie!) After it was over, we were talking about it. My older son said, “As the movie went on, I began to worry that the treasure was going to turn out to be something lame…like love of family!” (He was, at some level, kidding! We actually love each other very much!) But that mentality DOES raise an interesting point. When I ask the question that started today’s entry, you probably automatically thought something like, “OK. He’s going to talk about gifts, then lead to something about Jesus being the best gift he got! So predictable!” Well, hate to burst your bubble…but WRONG!
“Yes it’s over…call it a day. Sorry that it had to end this way.” Those bittersweet words, crooned so well by Johnny Mathis, sum up may folks’ feelings today! Christmas came, Christmas went, and we feel as if it ran over us on the way by! In fact, I had a REALLY strange experience about Christmas being over a few days ago! It was on the 21st, a full 4 days BEFORE Christmas, and I was working on the church bulletin for today’s service- the 26th. When you write things (Bulletins, newsletters, whatever) that are for a future time, you have to put your mindset in THAT time frame, as opposed to the one you are actually in. So I’m sitting in my living room working on a bulletin on my laptop at 8PM on the 21st of December, while in my mind it was the 26th of December. On the TV, a commercial started playing that included a kid looking at a Santa snow globe while Nat King Cole’s version of The Christmas Song (“Chestnuts roasting”…and all that!) was playing in the background. I looked up from the computer and said, “Why are they playing that NOW…AFTER Christmas?!” My wife and son looked at me like I had lost my mind…a real possibility, and then I realized what I had done. I mumbled some half-hearted explanation and then went back to my work, hoping they would just forget the whole thing!
When I was a kid, Mrs. Martin used to make my birthday cakes. She was a lady who lived up the road (I grew up out in the middle of nowhere…we didn’t have streets…we had ROADS!) and she made cakes shaped like animals. And I thought that was the coolest thing I had ever seen! (I was 14 years old at the time…but don’t laugh at me!) Actually, I was about 5 years old, and I remember seeing a picture of me, on my knees on a stool at the kitchen counter, holding the edge of a cake shaped like a lamb so that it tipped forward for the camera. I had a MASSIVE smile on my face!
Are you done yet? Do you have ALL the presents bought…wrapped…labelled…and delivered? Is everything…ready? If you’re like me…the answer is “no”! (Although I have done MUCH better this year than most years! I will probably only have to make ONE trip to Wal-Mart today!)
you know about Festivus? Have you missed this important holiday? If so, don’t
fret! It’s actually as “made-up” holiday, celebrated on December 23.
It was created by writer Dan O’Keefe and introduced into popular culture by his
son Daniel, a screenwriter for the TV show Seinfeld. In the show, the holiday is introduced by
Frank Costanza to Cosmo Cramer.
“Many Christmases ago, I went to buy
a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man.
As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.”
Kramer: “What happened to the doll?”
“It was destroyed. But out of that a
new holiday was born: a Festivus for the rest of us!”
“That must have been some kind of
Festivus features an unadorned aluminum
“Festivus pole”. The basics of the
Festivus pole are explained by Frank:
“And is there a tree?”
“No, instead, there’s a pole. It
requires no decoration. I find tinsel distracting. It’s made from aluminum. Very high strength-to-weight ratio.”
When not being used, the pole is stored in
the Costanzas’ crawl space. The “Airing of Grievances” happens during
the traditional Festivus meal. Everybody tells everybody else all the ways they
have disappointed them over the past year. Then, after the meal, the
“Feats of Strength” are performed, involving wrestling the head of
the household to the floor, with the holiday ending only if the head of the
household is actually pinned. Anything that happens around Festivus, no matter
how mundane or easily explainable, is seen as a “Festivus miracle”!
The rallying cry for those who celebrate it is “a Festivus for the rest of
us”! It began as a way to celebrate the holiday season without having to
participate in all the rampant pressure and commercialism. Some people actually
celebrate the holiday in varying degrees of seriousness.
I really enjoy Seinfeld…and the Festivus episode is one of my favorites. It’s HYSTERICAL! But….it DOES raise an interesting question- have we ruined (or at least tainted) the sacred celebration of Christmas by the rampant secular holiday many Americans focus on? Have we turned enough people off to the true meaning of Christmas that’s it’s completely lost in the shuffle? I just read that while 74% of Americans describe Christmas as “primarily religious”, only 58% encourage belief ion Jesus Christ as Savior, only 47% will attend church on Christmas Eve/Day, only 34% will watch Biblically-themed Christmas movies, and only 28% will read or tell the Christmas story from the Bible. It’s amazing that, although 3/4 of Americans call Christmas a religious holiday, only 1/4 will actually read the Bible story about it.
My challenge to you is is- even though today is a “Festivus for the rest of us”…focus on the REAL reason for the season! Encourage belief in Jesus Christ as Savior. Attend a church service on Christmas Eve/Day. Watch a Biblically-based Christmas movie. (The Nativity is a pretty decent one.) Read the 2nd chapter of the Gospel of Luke…to yourself AND your family. Celebrate a baby in a manger who split time in half…changed the world…saved us!
Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and stop by again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
What do YOU want for Christmas? I find that a more difficult question as every year goes by. When I was a kid…man oh man…I had NO problem telling you what I wanted for Christmas! The only problem I had was limited the list to one page! Remember the Sears catalog? That was like “dream gift” heaven for me! There was not a shopping mall near me…in fact there weren’t many shopping malls at ALL when I was a kid! (But you have to remember- that was back when we rode dinosaurs go school!) But when that Sears catalog would come…my oh my! I would spend HOURS pouring over the toy pages. My attention would go excited from one thing to next, only slowing down when I got to the end of the section. Then I would flip back to the START of the section and do it all over again. And somewhere along the way, I would get the bright idea of marking things that I wanted. Then that marking would morph into a list, and the list would grow and grow…until my mom would point out that I needed to do some…”pruning”! When Christmas came, I would be SO excited I could hardly stand it. I would attack my presents with zeal and gusto, ripping wrapping paper to shreds to find out what was inside. Then…on to the next one!
Every week of Advent…the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas…we have looked at one of the candles from the Advent Wreath. Today, we look at the 4th candle.
Today is National “Go Caroling” Day! But I just couldn’t wait…so I went yesterday! Every year, one of the things my church my church participates in is caroling. A group piles into the church van and drives around town, visiting folks who aren’t able to get out as much anymore. We call them in advance to make sure that they will be home and accepting visitors.
My church, like most, has a variety of traditions they follow each year. One of my favorites is known as The March to the Manger. It is traditionally done on the Sunday before Christmas…and this year is NO exception! So today is March to the Manger Sunday! And here’s what it looks like!
I am, admittedly, a HUGE music fan! I have been a musician for almost 40 years. I’ve been singing since I was a teenager. I grew up listening to such diverse artists as Andy Williams, Mitch Miller and Iron Butterfly! There are very few genres of music I DON’T like…but two that come to mind rhyme with “bountry” and “pap”! Therefore, I look SO forward to Christmas music. The Christian radio I listen to starts playing Christmas music on Thanksgiving Day, and they play it 24/7 until Christmas Day. The “classic rock” station I sometimes switch to is doing the same thing., And the car I am currently driving has satellite radio, which features AT LEAST 2 all-Christmas channels. It’s everywhere…and I love it!
I came into work one day this week…and the Internet was…GULP…down! I freaked out! How in the world can I do…anything…without the Internet? How can I function if I can’t check my email and keep up with parishioners on Facebook? What’s happening?! It reminded me of a Saturday Night Liver sketch featuring Will Ferrell as a TV news anchor. In the middle of the broadcast, the teleprompter (the thing that feeds them the words they are supposed to say) quit working! To say chaos ensued would be a GROSS understatement!
Each week during December I am taking a day to look at the season of Advent- the time leading up to Christmas. As I have mentioned already, Advent is a season of waiting…waiting for Emmanuel…God with us…Jesus Christ. (I have also shared that I, impatient person that I am, don’t wait very well!)
Sigmund Freud once said, “A man with a toothache can’t be in love.” The inference is, of course, that when you have something “nagging” in your life, it robs the focus from other things. It’s really the difference between the urgent and the important. You know what I mean. There are LOTS of things in our lives that are urgent- those “barking dogs” that yap at our heels all day long saying, “Pay attention to me…I demand your time!” And while some of the them ARE important…many of them are JUST urgent. And yet, we give them our attention, often to the detriment of those things that are TRULY important.
Tossing. Turning. Looking at the clock. You’ve waited, and waited…and now you’re being asked to wait some more. Then, just when it seems time has simply come to a screeching halt, the sun peeks over the horizon; Christmas morning dawns calm, cold, and clear. It’s time! You leap from your bed, run to mom and dad’s room, yelling, laughing, tumbling, begging.
There is an episode of The Andy Griffith Show where Opie is VERY proud of something. So proud, in fact, that Andy says, “That boy weighs about 100 lbs and I would swear 50 of it is proud. Proud. Proud. Proud. Proud. Proud. Proud!” What are YOU proud of? I’m proud of…my wife! Along with simply being an awesome human being, she shows an amazing ability to listen to God…AND… respond to what He says!
I had a very busy Friday! Even though it’s my “day off”…some Fridays are less “off” than others! Late in the afternoon, I was at the hospital, sitting with a family. I left about 5:20PM, because I had to get home, changed and to church before 6PM to drive 17 Junior High and High School kids to the movies! I had told my wife I would pick her up something for dinner, since she was going to be alone for the evening, so I drove through KFC. Now, I have admitted MANY times that I am not the most patient person in the world, especially when I am in a hurry! So I pulled up to the drive-through and there was only one car in front of me. My side window was kind of fogged, so I rolled it down to read the menu. That meant I could hear the person in front of me ordering. There was some confusion, so the process took longer than I would have liked! Then I heard the voice from the speaker say, “Those biscuits will take 7 minutes…do you want to wait?” Well, I was already pushing it…time-wise…and realized that if HE waited 7 minutes for his biscuits…then I waited 7 minutes for his biscuits, too! So I said, “Say ‘No’!” It was at that precise moment I became painfully aware of 2 things: 1. My window was still down, and 2. I talk loudly! Yep…he heard me! And I KNOW he heard me because he turned his head and stared at me! I smiled weakly, rolled up my window as fast as I could and pretended to “dig” on the radio! Happy, happy, joy, joy!
clothes and long faces.” It seems obvious to me that many people don’t. You’ve been around those kinds of people- grumpy, griping sticks in the mud who are negative about virtually everything that happens in life and complain almost constantly? As a result…they’re just NOT much fun to be around! My mother-in-law would call them Joy Suckers! If there isn’t much joy in your life, then you need to reconnect to God. There are many who look connected…alive- they LOOK and SOUND like they’re alive, but they’re not…because they’re no longer attached to God. But I have great news this morning- lost joy can be restored. Famous evangelist Billy Sunday once said, “The trouble with many men is that they have got just enough religion to make them miserable. If there’s not joy in religion, you’ve got a leak in your religion.” God not only wants to restore our lost joy, He also wants us to cultivate those things that will build lasting joy into our lives so that we don’t have any leaks in our religion. Here are 4 ways to cultivate joy: