Warning: The Holidays Can be Hazardous to Your Health

According to most psychologists, January is a difficult month for most people. Not only are the days shorter, colder and the nights longer, but Christmas is such a disappointment.

Think about that. The best news the world has ever heard is now a let- down for us. Promises of “good news of great joy” just never seem to get to us. And if they do, they don’t stay long.

Why is that? Do you really want to know?

The first reason is that what we call Christmas and what we celebrate during December is not Christmas. It may be fun, it may be nice, but it’s not Christmas.

From now until the first weeks of January, we’ll be pummeled with advertisements about what to buy the people we love for Christmas. We’ll be told how important it is for us to buy and buy because our economy counts on consumers. We’ll be hounded by family until we agree to be at the right house at the right time.

And we’ll enter into the new year exhausted and angry. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Christmas is about Christ. So, make it about Him. Make worship and service, not shopping and spending, the focus of your Christmas.

There’s no rule that says you have to see everyone at Christmas. Make sensible travel plans and don’t spend yourself into debt. Anyone who demands that of you isn’t your friend.

Every year, more and more people talk about the need to keep Christ in Christmas. Let’s make sure it starts with us.

Only What Matters…

The other day, I came across a television show about extreme RVs. These camping and traveling buses have now become the equivalent of land yachts. Gourmet kitchens, marble floors, Italian leather upholstery … at some point this thing is no longer a camper. It’s a home you can move from place to place.

Have you ever noticed how we love to junk things up?

Think about it. My watch will tell me the weather, how far I’ve walked in one day and the time in six different time zones. The only thing I really need is to know what time it is where I am.

My car has so many gadgets that operating these gadgets can cause my driving to become unsafe. They have little warnings that pop up and warn me I shouldn’t be using them while I’m driving.

Really? What did they think I would be doing in my car? We do the same thing with Jesus. Jesus says “Follow me, Believe in me.”

It’s that simple. It’s not easy, but it is simple.

We’re the ones who junk it up with other demands and expectations – from how many times we attend church to “Are we carrying the correct version of the Bible?”

Really?

Now I believe that if you follow Jesus, you’ll show it by doing certain things – you’ll love studying His Word, you’ll love being with His people – not because someone said you had to, but because being with Jesus makes you want to.

Sometimes, we forget life is a journey. We’re always on the move. Jesus came to make the burden lighter, not heavier.

Let’s be sure that in our zeal to get everything just right, we don’t end up getting everything all wrong.

Why We Have the First Amendment

Jonathan and Elaine Huguenin are the owners of a studio, Elane Photography, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A lesbian couple asked them to photograph their wedding, but they’re conservative Christians who don’t believe in same-sex marriage, so they decided not to accept the job.

The lesbian couple sued the Huguenins and won. They also won on appeal.

The case, as you might imagine, is on the way to the Supreme Court. It’s going to be extremely important for the future of our nation.

Now, understand, the Huguenins didn’t try to stop the marriage. From what I can tell, they did nothing to “enforce” their beliefs on the lesbian couple. The photographers just disagreed, and therefore, declined to be their wedding photographer.

In the appeal, the judge ruled that the Huguenins should put their religious beliefs aside because doing this is what is now required to be a citizen in these pluralistic United States.

I don’t think so.

Really?

The First Amendment says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

Isn’t this what just happened? Does our culture now require we separate belief from action? If so, how do you do that?

I believe government should stay out of people’s business.

I don’t think we need a marriage amendment. I don’t think anyone has a right to say who gets to be with whom. That’s your business.

Sure, I have my beliefs, and I’ll be glad to talk with you about them if you ask. You have a right to disagree.

All of us, within reason, have the right to live our lives the way we want to, worship God as we believe best, work in a job we enjoy, and love our families the way we want to.

That means if the lesbian couple has the right to get married, the Huguenins have a right not to be their photographer.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’d love to hear what you’re thinking.

Snapshots of Love

As you know, I spend a lot of time with young adults. One of the most troubling things I’ve discovered in my conversations with them is that many of them don’t have good role models for their lives.

A lot of their parents have divorced, so they don’t have a healthy view of marriage.
They’ve become jaded by our culture, so they don’t have a good picture of the church or Christians in general.

They need new models—new snapshots—for their mental and spiritual photo album. (All of these mental pictures are how we believe life is or should be, and we store them in our heads.)

This brings up an aspect of our marriages not many of us think about. There’s an aspect of our marriages that isn’t for us.

At some level, our marriages exist to show others the reality of Christ’s love for His church and His people’s love for Him. According to Paul, in Ephesians 5, the great mystery of Christ and His church is lived out in the marriage of a Christian husband and a Christian wife.

Other people should be able to look at our marriages and say, “That’s the way Jesus loves His church. That’s the way the church loves Jesus.”

Christ-following husbands and Christ-following wives give our world new snapshots of love, the church, and Jesus Himself.

Our marriages don’t belong to us, but to Him. He can use our love however He needs to help others know the kingdom possibilities of their own marriages.

So, remember to smile today. Someone is probably taking your picture.