It is almost that time again... Those who know me know I love this time of the year. Thanksgiving turkey and pumpkin pies. Being with family and friends. The smells, the goodies, and the music of Christmas brings back wonderful memories for me. I realize this is not the case for everyone.
Dr. Seuss was not thinking of me when he wrote; The Grinch That Stole Christmas. Charles Dickens would not have asked me to play Scrooge in his story.
I do not feel the need to distribute bumper stickers that say, Put Christ Back into Christmas. I have no bone to pick this season unless it’s off the turkey. While I am not a preacher of anti-holidays, I am a preacher of anti-stress.
This is probably the time of year when many drift dangerously nearest insanity. It is a time of hurrying about to accomplish what we either feel we need to accomplish or what has come to be expected of us (sometimes it's those things we've put on ourselves or have allowed others to expect of us that cause us stress.). I would like to see everyone have a stress-free holiday season.
It can be difficult for many to enjoy what was meant to be a blessing if one is trapped by the hustle and bustle of the season. Let me share some tips to help you enjoy a stress-free holiday season.
1. Remain Focused... 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 “...do not lose heart...” “..fix your eyes on what is unseen rather than what is seen (or expected)...” Focus on what life is all about. Life does not consist of the things we possess. Luke 12:15.
2. Distinguish between the Important and the Urgent... Do only what needs to be done... Concentrate primarily on the Important (always strive to do the important first, only occasionally, the urgent will need to take precedence).
3. Conquer the tendency to Accept Unnecessary Expectations. You must make a conscious decision because expectations are part of life.
4. Challenge Old Mindsets and Habit Patterns... we have grown accustomed to living by habits, and many traditional habits can create stress. Christman cards are lovely but can create stress for those overly concerned about forgetting and leaving someone out.
Dangerous Mindsets: This season is not without its unique problems and temptations. My plea is for common sense and balance.
1. Doctrinal Danger- Substituting the temporal for the eternal. You can take a good thing too far...even the celebration of Christmas. When one takes good things farther than intended, they border on the heretical side.
2. Personal Danger- Impressing people with gifts more than edifying people with love. Instead of impressing people with what you buy them, spend time sharing your love and appreciation for their friendship.
3. Economic Danger- Spending more than you have on hand. We need to ask ourselves some direct, penetrating questions: Is this within our budget? Is it appropriate? Is it saying what I want to say? Could I say it less-expensively? A good rule of thumb is if we don’t have cash, don’t buy it.
4. Psychological Danger- Getting built up for a let-down. The world has a way of creating a false sense of excitement. Much of the church has bought into this. The afterglow can be very depressing. Enjoy the 25th but not at the expense of the 26th.
5. Develop a “Enjoy it Attitude” rather than an “Endure it Attitude.” I’m doing this because I enjoy it rather than because I have to or it is expected of me.
Some Scriptures to meditate on: Matthew 6:25-34 “Take no thought for tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself.” Philippians 4:4-8 “Rejoice and do not be anxious about anything. Pray about everything…” 1 Peter 5:7 “Casting all your care (anxiety, stress) on Him knowing He cares for you.” Psalm 55:22 "Cast your cares on the Lord, and he will sustain you." Psalm 37:8b "Do not fret - it leads only to evil.”
Conclusion: Colossians 3:1-2 “...keep seeking the things above, where Christ is... Set your mind on things above, not on things that or only on earth.....” “....Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world...be transformed ...” Rom. 12:2
This is an old sermon I delivered every year during this season.