We live in a “PC” world. Oftener and oftener the Christian’s worldview is shushed in deference to the agenda of the moment. My husband and I were talking just this week about the big divide we’ve seen this holiday season. Currently there is a media-driven rebellion against wishing someone a “Merry Christmas,” even though the malls are packed with Christmas shoppers and Amazon is busily delivering packages in time for Christmas morning. “Happy Holidays” is the new trend and to wish someone a “Merry Christmas” is unbelievably considered offensive.
The thing is, what is considered “PC” is ever-changing. It’s tough to keep your finger on the popular pulse at any given moment these days. I think that’s why the response of both the angels and the shepherds of the nativity stand out to me so much this year in particular –
Suddenly a vast, heavenly army appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people with whom he is pleased!” vv 13-14
the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. v 20
These last few days of the season, I want to challenge myself to live expressively in light of Emmanuel (“God with us”), the One for whom Christmas was named. I want to live uncensored in my praise of Him. I want my words and actions to express my beliefs. Like the angels and shepherds, I want glorify Him in an expressive way, that those around me may know the reason for the season by what I say and do.
On that note, I wish each of you a heartfelt Merry Christmas!
Simon and I are practicing something new this Thanksgiving season, a variation of an idea I found here.
During the the entire month of November, we are paying closer attention to all the little things our kids are doing that are “praiseworthy” (like holding the door for someone, taking the garbage out unasked, remembering to use good manners, holding their tongue when treated harshly, or any number of other character qualities we want to encourage in our next generation). Each time we witness such an act, we are writing about it on a fall-colored sticky note and sticking it to their bedroom doors when they aren’t looking. (Example: “I was so thankful when I saw you offer to help the man in the wheelchair get a refill of his soda at Sam’s today.” True story. Cue Mom tears.)
Seems simple enough, I know, but I confess that I am too quick to point out the negative while being too slow to praise the positive. And a month focused on thankfulness seems like the proper place to change that pattern, don’t you think? After all, we are encouraged in Philippians 4:8 to do this very thing…
“whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable – if there is any moral excellence or if there is any praise – dwell on these things.”
How are you shifting your focus to one of thanksgiving for the little things this season? Please share your creative ideas (or links) in the comments.
This week, let’s implement yet another new pattern of prayer – The T.R.I.P. Method. This seemed like an abbreviated pattern very similar to last week’s P.A.R.T.S. pattern. Like the P.R.A.I.S.E. method, I enjoyed starting my time with God thanking Him for what He has already done. It positioned my heart for the next section, which is perhaps what I appreciated most about this particular pattern of prayer – the section on “regrets.” That is a category that I can relate to! Unlike “repentance,” regrets encompasses mess-ups that don’t stem from intentionality, but burden me, keeping me stuck in those moments. I appreciated this new aspect of talking through the times during the day that I missed the mark. It was unburdening to approach the Lord with these burdens, gratefully dumping them at His feet and being able to move forward – both in prayer and with my day. I feel that beginning with those two prepared my heart to intercede, praying for His will more than my own. And then ending by praising Him for His answers, whatever they will be.
This week, let’s have our prayers focus on the P.A.R.T.S pattern, another new pattern of prayer for me. This prayer pattern didn’t flow for me as easily as the P.R.A.I.S.E. pattern did, but I appreciated the addition of “repentance,” as that is one area that I tend to forget amongst all the needs I find myself praying for more often. I also liked the “sharing” addition, as too often I keep my prayer & devotional life private. It challenged me to open up more with people and share what the Lord was actively teaching me and I needed that.
I am a highly impressionable person. I believe we all are in varying degrees. What we read, what we watch, the company we keep – all of these have a hand in shaping our perceptions and perspective. We vicariously learn through the experiences of the characters we come to know on the screen or in the pages of a book, whether for good or evil. One such character that has shaped my perspective on relating to others is Lorelei Gilmore from Gilmore Girls.
Gilmore Girls was a fast-paced, cleverly written show littered with pop culture references and witty banter. I was drawn to the main character (Lorelei) from the first episode in 2000. Lorelei, having become pregnant at sixteen, was now the mother of a sixteen-year-old daughter herself. What drew me to her character was that she accepted people at face value, for who they were at present, not who she wanted them to be. This was starkly contrasted against her own mother’s character whose snarky comments usually left little room for doubt that Lorelei was a constant source of disappointment to her. Lorelei usually managed to find humor even in the most humorless of people or circumstances. She was keenly aware that she didn’t have it all together. That perspective freed her from easily taking offense when those around her didn’t have it all together, either, allowing her to accept people as-is.
Romans 15:7 – Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
PONDER: If you have trouble accepting people as-is, ask yourself this: How did Christ accept you? (Hint: Read Romans 5:8.)
An impending lay-off. A broken relationship. Financial distress. Health issues. Car trouble. Simply living life provides us daily with circumstances that can prompt us to cry out to God for help. But what if there was something more we could do? I believe this psalm gives us that something more – praise Him as we cry out for help. Think about it. He is worthy of praise even if His answers to our cries for help don’t align with our expectations. Psalm 66 teaches us to voice our praise even as we cry out in our current circumstances. Praising God redirects our attention from what needs saving, to the One Who saves. We praise Him, not because of the outcome, but because of Who He is, regardless of the outcome.
How our perspectives would change if we praised Him as we cried out to Him instead of waiting to see how He answered!
PONDER: What circumstances keep you crying out to God for help? In those same circumstances, how could you praise Him even as you cried out to Him for help?
Crying Out is one of thirty devotionals I’ve been asked to write this year as part of a friend’s year-long devotional project. You can read more short devotionals like this by clicking here or the Devotionals tab at the top of this page.