Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Christmas Gripes

Welcome to 2009!

Is it still a thrill to turn the page on a new year? Have you resolved to get in shape, eat better, act more responsibly and to save money? Have you resolved to enjoy God more in 2009? I think that's the very best resolution one could make heading into the new year, and I believe it's one that's most honoring to God.

But it's not easy having that as your highest goal, and God knows it isn't, too. So, He's worked a little life conspiracy into our days to see that we have what we really want most--God Himself.

That brings us to what we've been waiting for, the #1 LifeNote of 2008! It was the most read, most commented upon and most forwarded. At the top of our list is: "The Christmas Gripes."

Maybe you're one of those savvy types who remembers it from late 2007, and you'd be correct. It was published in late December of '07. But it was so popular that the effects of it spread well into 2008, making it necessary to include it on our Top 10 list. It's all about what God does for His sons and daughters, and I believe that's why so many liked it so much.

I hope you enjoy it all over again.

Finally, tomorrow we'll begin a shorter version count down, the Top 5 Under-Appreciated LifeNotes of 2008. Yes, this is my way of giving air to a few LifeNotes that I thought were relatively overlooked. And if they're again overlooked, I'll pout and throw a tantrum for at least, oh, an hour. I hope you cannot live with that on your conscience.

And I promise: after this, no more 2008 count-downs!

Happy New Year!


After secretly purchasing a carpet shampooer, I did the living room before Sarah returned from a short trip to California. She was thrilled—the carpet dazzled.

Within a week one particular stain decided to return. By the way, how can that be? It was gone, removed, eradicated and conquered, but it comes back?! Anyone know? Well, I was not happy with Mr. Stain. And somehow Mr. Stain spread to me.

I got the gripes. Suddenly lots of things bothered me, like that my old car needs new tires—all four—and how the wiper blades on Sarah’s car don’t work right, and how there are more leaves I’ve got to deal with in the backyard, and how my dog doesn’t pick up after herself, and how my girls don’t either, and how all those toll-free people call my house all day long with really stupid offers, and how no one has commented on my blog lately, and how no one has cleaned and organized my study for me, and how blankets and clothing tumble out of the closet because they weren’t hung up properly, and how the basement is a cluttered wreck once again, matching the cardboard-strewn garage, which is party to some shipping peanuts running helter-skelter, and how I have to put up all the Christmas lights, including Mr. Gargantuan Christmas Tree, and how. . .

See? I got the gripes.

As I grumbled and muttered while making a manual attempt to clean Mr. Stinking Stain, I somehow remembered that God is fairly capable at cleaning me up in times like this. With an extra and angry squirt of carpet cleaner at Mr. Stain, I offered myself to the Holy Spirit—“Well, God, I’m mad. . .with good reason, too. Nothing’s right. Nothing’s going as it should, you know? What do you think about all this nonsense and crap, anyway?” Into my mind popped these words: “Do all things as unto the Lord. . .”

Well, I melted. I forget that God is incredibly capable from where He now lives.

While Jesus didn’t have to deal with what I do (He didn’t have a blog), I don’t have to deal with what He did—thank God for that! (Can I get an ‘Amen!’?) Anyway, Jesus didn’t live in order to get the wood carvings and sawdust swept up, He didn’t live to reach the woman at the well, and he didn’t measure His days by how much and how well He got things done. Or by how things seemed to turn out. His days were spent being involved with God the Father. I do so well when I remember that that’s the deal for me, too!

Does that make sense? When I regularly pause to ask Him something, to look for His leading, to listen for His words, or to feel-out what He might be feeling, He does stuff in me! It’s as simple as that. Any little or brief opportunity I give Him by turning my thoughts toward Him is like gold with Him! “Ah, ha!” He might say. “I’ll take that junk out of your mind, that covetousness out of your guts, and that yearning for the stuff of this world out of you. That stuff is easy for me. Remember where I am and what I can do? How about involving me then.” Gee. Now there’s a thought.

You know, we’re heading into a major season for the flesh. I don’t mean that you shouldn’t have some rum-laced eggnog, or go shopping for three days straight at that den of worldliness, the mall, or that you shouldn’t get caught up with all the fun and finery of Christmas. Have fun! However, you and I can do all of that without involving God and without really knowing Him. That’s abnormal for us, and we’ll likely have a lousy time.

So, practice involving God. That will make the most boring or “Do we always have to do this?” tradition take on new meaning and new life. In the middle of decorating, ask, “Any ideas, Lord?” Pay attention to the thoughts and ideas you get—they could be His. Before donning your shopping helmet for this weekend’s blitzkrieg at the mall, invite Him to lead you to a store or to a particular gift for so-and-so. And then watch and feel for His leading. When writing a greeting on a Christmas card, pause and say, “What do you think about so-and-so, Holy Spirit? Anything I should say?” What comes next might make the task better—even after the thirty-second card you’ve made out.

Doing things to involve God are indeed gold to Him. And it will keep Mr. Stain from spreading in your direction.

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