A Christmas Carol

Christmas carolOur Advent Worship Series at Northside Church is entitled Classic Christmas Movies. Last Sunday’s feature film was A Christmas Carol, starring Patrick Stewart.

In Charles Dickens’ novella, the fearsome ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future visited Ebenezer Scrooge. He awoke on Christmas morning a transformed man.

Dickens reminds believers that we celebrate Christmas in three tenses. PAST: We remember how the Son of God became incarnate as a tiny babe. PRESENT: We recognize Christ’s Spirit present in our daily lives. FUTURE: We anticipate the day our Lord will return again in glory.

It’s telling that Charles Dickens entitled his story A Christmas Carol. Ebenezer Scrooge discovered the true meaning of Christmas that terrible, wonderful night. Faced with the reality of his life, he also discovered God’s power to change.

Christmas reminds us that it’s never too late to become the people that we always hoped to be.

“God bless us, every one.”

An Attitude of Gratitude

attitude of gratitudeAn attitude of gratitude begins and ends each day with the question, “What am I grateful for today?” Then thanksgiving directs our eyes from the gift to the Giver. It prompts us in a variety of ways to say “Thank you” to the Author of all good and perfect gifts.

Gratefulness begins with God and overflows to others. The Lord graces us with life-giving relationships with family, friends, and others. Our human nature leads us to take people for granted. A focus on gratitude inspires us to both experience and express our appreciation for those around me.

Gratitude also helps inoculate our souls against whining, complaining, and grumbling. Gratefulness leads us to focus on blessings rather than inconveniences. It is difficult to moan and groan while praising God and loving others.

We tend to be a forgetful people, so seed each day with small reminders. Use daily routines to instill habitual moments of thanksgiving and praise.

Throughout the year, cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

An Early Christmas

I first published this blog in November 2017.

Dec 25A Hallmark display recently caught my eye. The sign above the holiday greeting cards declared: Christmas is December 25th.  Huh. Good to know.

Many bemoan how the holidays arrive earlier every year. Retailers anxious for Christmas sales begin Black Friday sales on July 4th. Costco erected a winter wonderland of snowmen in September. XM Radio premiered their holiday stations on November 1.

And Hobby Lobby . . . well, the home goods store celebrates three seasons: Last Christmas, This Christmas, and Next Christmas!

I’ve always resisted the holiday madness, observing the day after Thanksgiving as my personal advent of the holiday season. However, I’ve experienced a Scrooge-like change of heart.

December days rush by so quickly with over-committed calendars and hectic schedules. December 26th always dawns with an awareness of opportunities lost.

So this year I’m celebrating an early Christmas.

I’m decking the halls, listening to Christmas music, and singing carols. Eight Nativity Scenes adorn my office. An old fashioned, candle ornament is plugged into an outlet, bubbling merrily away. I’ve been sipping eggnog since early-November. If I had some chestnuts, they would be roasting on an open fire.

Oh, I fight the occasional urge to say, “Bah, humbug.” I’m a recovering Scrooge with occasional lapses. However, life’s too short to miss the advent of the Holy Day Season.

Christmas is December 25th this year. But why wait? Start celebrating an early Christmas today.

Do Good

“Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,

In all the ways you can,

In all the places you can,

At all the times you can,

To all the people you can,

As long as ever you can.”

Ascribed to John Wesley

So,

get those “cans” to work!

DST Forever!

DST Fall

Twice a year our bodies adjust to the abrupt change of Daylight Saving Time. In the fall, we “gain” the hour “lost” last spring. Although we welcome the additional hour of sleep, it takes days to readjust.

Standard Time is like the weather—everyone complains about it, but no one does anything about it! In six months, we will revisit the debate yet again.

Here’s my simple plan: Daylight Saving Time Forever! Yes, there are more important issues in the world, but this is one we could easily fix.

Quit messing around with the calendar and clock. I’ll gladly trade an hour of sunlight in the morning for an additional hour in the evening. And no one would miss the semiannual shock to our biological clocks.

I’m sure Congress will get right on it, along with a balanced budget, reduced deficit, and funded entitlements. On second thought, I’ll plan to “Spring forward one hour” again next March.

The 5 Love Languages

the 5 love languagesGary Chapman published The 5 Love Languages in 1992. After five editions, ten million copies, and numerous companion books, Chapman has made a cottage industry out of the original manuscript.

Chapman asserts we experience and express love through five love languages, including:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch

Most people speak a primary and secondary language.

Miscommunication occurs when couples assume they speak the same language. Learning and speaking your partner’s love language revitalizes relationships.

During premarital counseling, I present couples with a copy of The 5 Love Languages. The concepts provide crucial strategies for healthy relationships.

To paraphrase the Apostle Paul, “If I speak in the tongues of humans and angels, but do not speak my partner’s love language, then I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”

Love others by speaking their love language.

Buckhead

We moved to Buckhead in 2017. After living outside-the perimeter since my teens, I envisioned an area of high-rise buildings and high-density neighborhoods. Certainly both exist, but Buckhead also features rolling hills, mature forests, and crooked creeks.

The church parsonage on West Wesley is a bit like a mullet hairdo—business in the front and party in the back! The front yard faces a busy, metro street. The backyard borders acres of woods. The patio could be located in Highlands, well, except for the constant drone of traffic and planes.

BucksDuring our tenure in the house, I have seen opossums, deer, hawks, owls, snakes, squirrels, chipmunks, and foxes. Two years ago a church member even photographed a brown bear 75 yards away from our backdoor.

Last month I glanced out a window to see a buck emerging from the woods. A few moments later another buck joined him. After meandering around the back yard, they walked down the stairs to the creek.

Several stories account for our community’s name. I now have my own theory!