Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas is not for complaining; it's for Celebrating!

Ever listen to mainstream radio? Sometimes I do in the car on the way home. I can admit that I like some of today's pop tunes and yesterday's rock. Occasionally, I end up on a station that has one of those talk programs. In fact, they provide interesting subject matters and discussion ... but not always.

One of those "not always" times happened recently as I made my way home from another long day at work. This particular time the radio host was inviting listeners to call in and name their biggest complaint, or pet peeve. Unable to turn the dial, I found myself riveted to complaints of the callers. I hate to admit I found myself nodding my head in agreement and laughing out loud. I could relate. Actually, I was relating a little too much.

Then it hit me like a snowball in the face -- splat! This was a program featuring people complaining about EVERYTHING. Tis the Season to moan and groan. I stopped chuckling and hit the off button silencing the next storyteller half way through his tirade.

I occurred to me, once again, how easy it is to complain rather than rejoice and celebrate. We live in a world that easily embraces the negative often ignoring the positive. Granted, there's a ton of not-so-nice stuff happening everyday. Yet, there is an array of awesome happenings if we open our eyes enough to notice them. It's so easy to complain. Talking about what annoys us feels natural. Some call it a good "bitching session." But these so-called sessions have nothing in common with our King's calling.

God instructs us to think about those things that are positive, uplifting, and good. We are to fill our minds with His Word. NOWHERE are we told to have a time of unrelenting complaining. Quite the opposite. We are reminded to give thanks in all things and celebrate the glory of our mighty King. Christmas is when we celebrate the Prince of Peace's arrival, a time to love and share good cheer. Yet, I was instead listening to a popular radio station enlisting people to complain, and enjoying it. Shame on me!

What if instead that same station had invited folks to call in and share one positive, amazing, or miraculous event that had transpired in their lives? What if listeners were instructed to share something positive that happened? What if we were encouraged to list what we were grateful for? What a difference (for the better) the answers to those questions would make.

There's more than enough negativity in our world today. We certainly don't need special public sessions to complain about it. Rather, let us proclaim the goodness of God and celebrate the successes and surprises we are privy to everyday if we look with our "God glasses." Seeing the world through His grace and glory, knowing there is a future far better than our greatest moment on this earth, is more than enough to cause celebration and sing His praises.

Like the princess in the picture above, we can keep our eyes focused on the eternal destiny that will someday be our home, and we can find plenty of reasons to celebrate right now. Tomorrow is the greatest reason of all, the biggest birthday bash of all time ...

Why complain when the Savior Reigns? He is the Ultimate Gift. Let us unwrap His love and live like we know the Greatest King of All. Because we do.

Merry Christmas Princess Warriors.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tis the Season ... for Chaos or Christ?

Tis The Season ...

Over the past few weeks, I've seen my fair share of kooky commercials advertising everything from socks to sauce pans, tools to Tshirts. One add series has really caught my attention, and not because I enjoy them. In fact, they bug me, a lot! Anyway,these particular TV spots feature a woman who I call The Target Lady. Yes, are Target ads. If you've seen it, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If not, let me give you a little description:

Target Lady is counting down the days to the holiday big sales. She is racing down the isles of the store (Target, of course) pushing a cart as she attempts to get in shape for the BIG DAY. In another add she says she hasn't slept in days. She's standing by mini-model of Target that she's apparently created on her kitchen table. In every commercial she appears overly animated, with eyes bugging, and a maniacal grin stretched across her face. She is a bundle of nervous energy as she waits for her day of shopping frenzy. Her life-purpose is to shop at Target.

Nothing against Target, or any retailer. I just find these commercials very eye opening. In all their exaggerated glory, there are some major parallels to the chaos that can easily reign in everyday life during the Christmas Season.

As Princess Warriors for Christ, we are reigning real for Christ, fighting the good fight, which actually involves spreading peace. Fighting with peace? Contradictory? No. Part of the armor are The Sandals of the Gospel of Peace. Wearing these sandals demonstrates our readiness to enter the world, as chaotic as it can be, and share the Good News -- Christ's Gospel of Peace. He gives us His peace. (See more info on wearing the sandals)

I don't know about you, but I don't always feel "peaceful" during this hectic time of year. Waiting in long lines and traffic jams aren't typically peaceful scenarios. I don't respond well to drivers crawling up on my car's bumper or grumpy people in line. Yet, as a Princess Warrior, I am supposed to bring peace to the world, and that means instead of yelling at that angry driver who speeds by fist (or finger) raised, I need to pray for him and remember there really is a Reason for the Season and it isn't hitting the best super sales, but hitting my knees in worship of the One who saved me from a life of sin and death. A Savior born in a filthy stable who now sits at the right hand of God in the heavenlies.

I guess if I'm honest with myself, I can admit that I've felt a bit like the Target Lady at times. Not about grabbing gifts, necessarily, but about all that needs (or, I think needs) to be done in order to make Christmas just right for my family and friends. When what truly is most important is celebrating the birth of the Christ and the freedom and peace He provides.

Granted, our world is not at peace, but peace can still live in our hearts. God give us the ability to walk in the world without being part of its chaos. And there are things we can do to keep focused on the real reason for The Season, and our existence, any time of year:

Please consider the Three steps to experiencing God's Peace (adapted from my Pastor, Dave Pauli's sermon last night, titled: Experience God's Peace this Christmas.

1. Learn to walk in the light of the Lord.

a. In His presence - Give God your day. Before your feet hit the ground, acknowledge His lordship over your life. Most of us wake up to worrying thoughts. Our daily to-do list is foremost in our minds. Instead, turn your attention to God, allow Him to direct your daily path right from the start.

b. Choose obedience - It's impossible to experience total peace while clinging to sin. The old saying: If you want the Bible's blessings live the Bible's Way-make a whole lot of sense. 1 John 5:3 (CEV) We show our love for God by obeying His commands, and they are not hard to follow.

2. Become a student of His Ways - Psalm 119:165 (NCV) Those who love your teachings will find true peace ... Spending time with God and learning to "live" His Word provides peace and a ton of other blessings.

3. Let go of conflict - Ephesians 4:3 (NIV) Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 1 Thessalonians 5:13 (NIV) ... live in peace with each other. Colossians 3:12 (NIV) As God's chose people, hold and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

I wish I could share all the stories and examples found in this simple yet highly practical teaching, but I can say one thing, peace involves choices. Choices we as Princess Warriors must make. We must choose to take steps that allow God's peace to reign in our hearts so we can spread it around in our world. Amen! We are, after all, Christ's hands extended to a hurting and often chaotic world.

Together, let's say no to being like the Target Lady and yes to experiencing and spreading the peace of our Lord this Christmas Season and the rest of the year.