Sick Observations

I spent most of all last week quarantined in my home centrally located around or in my bed.  I was suffering from a most despicable ailment called the flu and it infected half my family at one time. You probably know somebody dealing with this sickness today. The good news in my sickness was that I lost 8 lbs, but I also lost stamina.  You would think that laying in bed for 15 hours of a 24 day would help with energy development and fertile thinking.  Instead, I am still fighting to increase stamina and any profound thinking was reduced to just a few coherent thoughts. I would like to list a few of them here:

  1.  It is not good for man to be alone.  I thank God for a wife that helped carried us through.  Even if it was just to hand me a thermometer, just the knowledge she was there, was an immense help.  I also found comfort in that people in my faith family and friends were praying for us.
  2. Life is fragile, but God is not.  As I got better and able to read, I took comfort in Psalm 62 “How long will all of you attack a man to batter him, like a leaning wall, a tottering fence? . . . For God only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress: I shall not be shaken.  On God rests my salvation and my glory: my mighty rock, my refuge is God.  Trust in him at all times, O people: pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Those of low estate are but a breath: those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up: they are together lighter than a breath . . . If riches increase, set not your heart on them.  Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this; that power belongs to God, and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.”
  3. To Worship God in any and every circumstance is where the battle line is drawn.  I remember very feeble thinking in this I must worship God.  To offer fevered body and feeble mind to God and praise Him is still worship.  This always the pivotal and intensely private battle of every believing mind.  What starts in private becomes evident in public.
  4. See the sickness as testing.  How we respond to the everyday ailments and challenges of life is practice for how we will respond to the big challenges and adversities of life.  When we complain in the midst of little things, then we are setting the ground work to be complainers for life.  Will we be grumbling hateful or humbly thankful?
  5. Do the best with God and life when we are at our best.  Procrastinators die regretfully. I have been by the sides of enough people as they are dying to know that most people will kind of slowly wind down.  There usually is not a flurry of mental activity, last words said, and memories made.   If the life is not lived well in health there is very little chance of making that up when our bodies betray us.  As I laid in bed for hours at end, day-after-day, I got a small glimpse of life at the end.  God, thank you for letting me see enough and giving me life to carry on.
  6. We are not identified by our sickness.  This is easily understood in the midsts of temporary ailments, however; we tend to get chronic or “big” sickness and disease we sometimes forget this truth.  We have been teaching our family a catechism and the opening question is “What is our only hope in life and death?  That we are not our own, but belong body and soul, in life and death, to God and our savior Jesus Christ.”

Jarrod Scott

An Everlasting Love…

On February 14th “Love is in the Air” so to speak as millions of people celebrate the annual Valentine’s Day Holiday.  It is said that approximately 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually which makes Valentine’s Day the second most popular card sending day of the year next to Christmas.   But have you ever wondered about the history of Valentine’s Day?  Did it start with St. Valentine giving his beloved a card?  Maybe a bouquet of Roses?  Or what about a heart shaped box of Chocolates?

As we read about the history of Valentine’s day we find a few different stories surrounding this holiday.  Most of them, seem to revolve around a man that lived in third century Rome named St. Valentine or Valentinus.  The stories written about this man all point to the fact that his deeds were good, sympathetic and that he lived a life full of showing love to others.  However, in the end most stories agree that Valentine was eventually put to death by the Emperor.  The reasoning behind his execution was because the good deeds Valentine would do went directly against the decrees set in place by the Emperor.  But even though he was put to death by the Emperor, he would become known as one of the most popular Saints of that time because of the way he lived his life.

In our 21st century world today, Valentine’s day is typically the day where we tell the extra special someone in our life that we love them.  Maybe we send them flowers, buy them chocolates, go out for a nice dinner or even do all three.  Maybe we even write them a very personal love letter to let them know how special they are.  But if we take a step back and look at the origins of St. Valentine’s day, it should point us to someone else who is the ultimate example of Love for us – Jesus Christ.

1 John 4:19 states, “We love because He first loved us.”  This short but powerful verse reminds us that because of God’s amazing love for us, we are empowered by Him to love others.  Most of us would agree that it’s not too hard to love that extra special someone in our life and especially show it on Valentine’s Day.  But what about the person that is different than us?  The person that we don’t know? Even the person that is hard to love?  And to what length and depth are we to love others?  The answer to all of these is that our love is to be a reflection of the love shown to us by Jesus Christ.  Jesus often reminds us that he who loves God is to demonstrates this through loving others.

So as we celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, let us be reminded that the motivation and empowerment of the love we are to show to others is not limited to just one day or limited to that special someone in our life.  As followers of Christ our love is to be a reflection of His love.  A love that unconditionally took on the cross for our sins not because we earned it or deserved it, but because He loved us first.  Have a Lovely Valentine’s Day!

Jason Hicks

Generosity more than just feeling good

In a society that is driven by one more dollar, generosity stands as a forgotten virtue.  We see flashes of monetary kindness through movements such as “Practice Random Acts of Kindness” and “Pay it forward.”  Usually, it is motivated by the good feelings we get knowing we helped out a stranger or someone less fortunate. Or perhaps, the motivation is fueled by a belief in karma and we are paying our “good vibes” with the hopes of “good vibes” in return.

For the believer in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, generosity is about Christ-likeness and rebelling against the gods of this age. Our giving nature is a sign that we treasure and believe Christ as our provision for security and beauty.  As we show the signs of our faith we will be repudiating the gods around us. These moments of generosity becomes the modern point of the incarnation of Jesus’ body.  Therefore, they can be Spirit-filled experiences of proclaiming the gospel and defending our faith among the skeptics.  Friends may deride our belief in a resurrected Jesus, but they cannot deny the beauty of generosity.  Knightdale needs to see us being truly different from the world and generosity is one of the most obvious and clear signs of a different faith.

We do not believe in unsubstantiated claims of karma but something that has the authority of Jesus.  We believe that Jesus gave us something more than we could ever earn, therefore we are generous.  We believe that God is the giver of every good and perfect gift, therefore we are generous. We believe that God will call to end all earthly currency, therefore we are generous.  We believe that God will provide our needs, therefore we are generous.  We believe that God will provide our beauty and joy, therefore we are generous.  We believe that God will never leave or forsake us, therefore we are generous.  We believe that God will hold us accountable for our stuff, therefore we are generous.  We believe that eternity matters more than temporal, therefore we are generous.  We believe that God loves us and others, therefore we are generous.  We believe that every human being is made in the image of God, therefore we are generous.  We believe that when we help the unfortunate and oppressed we are serving Christ, therefore we are generous.  We believe that we cannot love both God and money, therefore we are generous.  We believe that God has made the church to care for one another, therefore we are generous.

Luke 16:9 “I tell you, use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends.  In this way, your generosity stores up a reward for you in heaven” (or when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwelling) NLT

So don’t practice random acts of kindness, but do pay it forward.  Do practice gospel-generated and Spirit-directed acts of kindness and take joy in the Lord.  payitforwardzone650

Jarrod Scott

Eighteen Years

Yesterday was a day of significance in our home.  My firstborn son turned eighteen years old.  Already towering over me by several inches, and well on his way to being much smarter and more accomplished than I ever could dream of being, he has now reached a substantial milestone on his way to adult manhood and complete independence.  Frankly, I couldn’t be more proud of him.  God answered our prayers for a blessed child those many years ago, and He has kept His loving hand on Him all the while.  And while yesterday was all about my son, his birthday got me wondering about 18 year-olds in scripture, whether God made mention of any, and whether that age seemed noteworthy to any extent.

And my search led me to two items of interest.  First, King Jehoiachin began his reign at age eighteen, after his evil father King Jehoiakim died.  Learning nothing from the poor choices of his dad, Jehoiachin did evil in God’s sight and lasted exactly 100 days on the throne.  However, ruling over Judah just before this despicable father-son duo was a king named Josiah.  He actually took the throne at age eight, and scripture says that he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of David.  And it was in his eighteenth year as king that Josiah ordered the temple to be renovated.  And during this project, the high priest Hilkiah found a copy of the book of the law.

Upon hearing the writings of Moses being read, Josiah was distraught by the message, and vowed to wholeheartedly turn God’s people back to Him.  He restored the holy worship of Yahweh, he took serious the commands and warnings found in the scroll, and he reinstituted the Passover, which had not been observed in over 400 years.  That, my friend, is a productive and blessed eighteenth year.  But when Josiah was gone, it took practically no time for Jehoiakim and company to turn from God and usher in the captivity and judgment that God’s Word had prophesied.

Much can happen by age eighteen, or in the eighteenth year.  Much that I had little to do with and deserve no credit for.  But it still wells up inside me and chokes me with emotion.  What God can do in a life, what He has done in our lives, is nothing short of miraculous.  If you’ve experienced eighteen years of something, then look back over it and see the marvelous hand of a loving God and Father.  There really is no other explanation for it, and I praise Him for His awesome gift to me.

Rich Holt

When death comes before birth

There are among us those people who have often suffered in silence a miscarriage or death of a child way too soon.  The last two weeks we have grieved with a family that lost a child 4 months into their pregnancy, after enduring a  previous miscarriage.  As well, this past Sunday the Sanctity of Human Life was celebrated in churches across our country. If you are someone who has grieved the loss of a child, may God use the manuscript of this funeral message for comfort.

Sadie (princess) Lane & Eli James (My God, one who follows)

1 Samuel 1:27-28

  1. 27 for this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him.

Children are a product of God’s work and the Godly parent submits to this and knows that it is a matter of prayer.  Submission, by essence of word, implies a lying down of our plans for children.   We have no bargaining chips with God, the Godly recognize this and looks to God for direction in the midst of a sin-plagued world.  Adversity and tragedy come to the righteous and wicked alike.  So why try?  God does not owe us life, prosperity, of length of days.  Life is a miracle and is a gift of God entrusted to parents for a while.  We are alive by grace and another heart beat is God’s grace.  We will be held accountable to the gifts entrusted to us (Heb. 9:27)

  1. 28 Therefore I also have lent him to the LORD; as long as he lives he shall be lent (granted) to the LORD.”

In light of children are only here because of God, we surrender them to God.  He designs them, made them, has power over them, and loves them enough to pay a purchase price for them ahead of time. Psalms 139:13-16 For You formed my inward parts;

You covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.

15 My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.  And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me,

When as yet there were none of them. NKJV This is true for all of us.

In light of such we see the obligation, but what about the pleasure in surrendering?  When none of us had the chance to get to know Sadie, God knew her intimately and had more considerations toward her then there are grains of sand.  Consider God’s plan of Jeremiah 29:11, Nature.  How could this be true when we are deprived of knowing Sadie and Eli and seeing them experience life?  Might I add that Steve and Kay have asked that this memorial be offered up to the countless others today in the audience that has suffered miscarriages in silence with a quiet grief.  May your grief experience some expression today and perhaps some comfort.

  1. We trust in God Character and heart. View this with the backdrop of the Cross.  God has not chosen these deaths to communicate what he thinks about you.  He chose one event and person that was called the Word of God.  This Word, this Jesus, died on the cross for us.  This puts His love toward us without question and also tells us that we have a God that suffers with us.  In fact, it was when Jesus was at the graveside of a friend with his mourning friends that He wept.  So today, the body of Christ, Jesus is not here bodily to weep, but we are here as His representatives to weep with us.
  2. Life in this world is not as always wished by God.

Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we await for it with patience. NKJV  As bad as the sufferings are and the pain of losing a child may be, the degree of negative intensity does not even rank in the degree of intensity of joy and glory in the world to come.  There will be a day when all that is sad will become untrue.  A natural world where babies die before they see the light of day is not God’s ideal world.  This is the ideal world to get to God’s Ideal world.  Until that time is realized nature and humanity are groaning and waiting for the redemption of our bodies.  We live in Hope until then, hope to see the children again.  It has been said that “for the believer this world is the closest to hell that they will get and for the unbeliever this world is the closest to heaven that they will get.  Sadie and Eli will experience the best this world can offer for the best is a shadow of Heaven while tasting a limited amount of the hell this world has to offer.

  1. This is not hope disappointed, but hope deferred. Proverbs 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life. NKJV  This verse is interesting considering that the Bible tells us that the tree of life is in heaven.  Heaven is the place where every hope is realized.   This implies Sadie’s presence is with God for hope to be realized.  This is the thought of David in

2 Samuel 12:19-23 When David saw that his servants were whispering, David perceived that the child was dead. Therefore David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?”

And they said, “He is dead.” 20 So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate. 21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive, but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” 22 And he said, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?” 23 But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” NKJV

Consider also the heart of God toward children expressed in

Matthew 18:10-14  “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. 11  For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.

12 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? 13  And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. 14  Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

NKJV

 

Therefore, God saves infants solely by grace (Titus 3:5), peculiar because the median is not faith, but extra grace.  They are incapable of faith since can’t hear the word (Rom. 10:17).  This fits with what we know about God’s grace and love, especially toward infants.  Grace is just due to the sacrifice of Jesus, once able to hear the word and understand their need then God holds them responsibility for the knowledge received.

God’s grace is central, for Christ is the center of salvation.

III. So they (could also be “he” for the verb is masculine) worshiped the LORD there.

NKJV

In light of giving Samuel to the Lord (around 3 years old), they worshiped God for he was in God’s hands for His use.  Steve & Kay, family the response of faith is worship for the object of faith is Christ.  Worship does not bring attention to the faith of the Walkers, but to the Savior of the Walkers.   You have more to give to Jesus (the hope of Sadie and Eli) and the good news is that the shoulders of Jesus can bear the extra load.

If it refers to “he worshiped the Lord there” then this would form a bracket around Hannah’s prayer and 2:11 “the child ministered to the LORD before Eli the priest.”  What an amazing thought to apply this interpretation to Sadie & Eli.  Sadie & Eli are worshipping the Lord there!  Let us join them and the millions who never got to see the light of day on this earth.

For the church, family, and friends:

Give them space to grieve, space to heal.

Remember their loss before them; (let them set the conversation, don’t automatically shut down the subject).

Intercede for them and with them.

Envelopes: as in send them letters.

Volunteer for specific help, pray about it and observe their needs.  It’s not whether they take up your offer, but that you offered.

Encourage them.

Jarrod Scott

How will I glorify God in 2017?

From the Westminster Shorter Catechism –

Question #1 – What is the chief end of man.

Answer – The chief end of man is to glorify God.

As we start out the new year, one good question to ask ourselves is, “How will I glorify God in 2017? Other than the execution of our busy lives, earning a living, and raising a family, do we have a “chief end” for this year that is intended to “glorify God”? Time goes by so quickly on this earth and, by the time all the dust settles, we are facing eternity, oftentimes sooner than we expected.

Jarrod’s sermon this past Sunday was not so much about money and church tithing as it was about what we do with our time and resources in general. To paraphrase, Jarrod used the illustration of his grandfather, at the end of his life, paying a nursing home until he had no more money to offer.  The Pastor’s point was to present the biblical concept that it is only what we give away in life that we get to keep for eternity.

James 4:14 Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

Matthew 6:19 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,

2 Corinthians 9:6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

So, as we head into 2017 and our lives get tangled up with work and play, let’s not squeeze out God and our desire to glorify Him in the midst of it all. What brings Him the greatest glory is to tell others about who He is and what he has done in our lives. Giving of our time and talents to share that truth may need to start with a Christian lifestyle. However, within our family, our workplace, and our extracurricular life, we need to ultimately speak out, telling people about Jesus.

Ephesians 6:19-20 [Pray] also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

It is in the giving of our time and resources that we gain the opportunity to tell others the Good News of the gospel message. Lord, help us keep our eternal priorities inside the boundaries of what You have established as the “Chief end of man”, to bring You glory.

Jeff Hilles

Snow Fever

When I lived in Boone, we experienced something called spring fever.  This condition provoked irrational behavior such as stripping to just shorts and laying outside when the weather hit 65 and we saw the sun.  We never knew when we would see such “balmy” conditions again and future snow was very probable. Here, in lower altitudes in the south we experience Snow fever.  A similar condition also producing irrational behavior at just the forecast of snow. The symptoms are generally likened to a squirrel collecting resources to endure the two – three days of being locked down. There is a certain delirium and joy in this experience, for we don’t know if it will snow again.  For most of the readers, this is a familiar experience.  However, the charm is wearing off as I write this with the power flickering on and off.
When we are without some of the modern conveniences and transportation is challenging, it allows us to appreciate the net that holds us together even more. The God- ordained social fabric called community can mean the difference between life and death when life is difficult.  Why don’t we take the time to thank God for it and do our part to contribute to it?  Find someone to contact and check on them, just because you can.  You will find that what it means to them, will mean so much to you.  When God blesses us with more than enough,  than use the surplus to bless the community and make it better.
“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” “Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:27‬-28 ‭ESV‬‬
“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭13:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
‭‭James‬ ‭4:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬
Jarrod Scott

A New Year’s Transformation…

As we finish out the last few days of 2016, some of us will hold 2017 with high expectations of improving ourselves beginning on January 1st, 2017.  Yep, that’s right, it’s time for the annual New Year’s Resolution.  A personal promise to yourself any maybe others that you will improve upon something in the new year.  The new year is our so called “restart” for personal goals and priorities that we’ve been somewhat lackadaisical with in the previous year.

Based on a survey conducted in 2016, one website reports that almost 50% of Americans regularly commit to a New Year’s Resolution every year.  Of those, only 8% successfully reach their goal leaving 92% of us unsuccessful.  Based on those percentages, it would appear that for most of us our personal resolution isn’t really working for us.  We may ask ourselves, why did I not stick to it or why was I unsuccessful?  Maybe our goal was unrealistic, maybe we didn’t have the right mindset or we lost focus.  Perhaps there was something that came up unexpectedly that caused us to not succeed.  Maybe the goal was something much bigger in real life than what we had originally played out in our mind.

I’m not sure what your personal record is for New Year’s Resolutions in years past, but I can certainly tell you I’m not winning any trophies for mine.  As I’m reminded of how we can fall short year after year in meeting our New Year’s Resolutions, it reminds me of how we fall short in another area of our lives.  Romans 3:10 tell us “None is righteous, no not one”.  A few verses later in Romans 3:23 it reminds us “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”.  As Paul writes later in Romans 7:18, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.”

So here in lies the problem of Sin in our lives.  Just like those New Year’s resolutions, we fall short of reaching God’s glory and Righteousness.  As much as we can feel good about ourselves at times from refraining from doing the “bad things” we are still sinners.  As much as we can feel good about ourselves by doing good deeds for others and maybe even an unselfish sacrifice for someone here and there, we are still sinners.  The good news is that the Hope of reaching “God’s Glory” is not left to ourselves but in Christ Jesus.  Despite the fact that we are sinners, Romans 5:8 says “But God shows his Love for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.

As we enter into 2017, let’s allow Christ to be our Hope in the New Year and not ourselves.  Instead of making another “Resolution” that is dependent on ourselves, let’s follow Christ and ask Him to make the “Transformation” in us that Paul reminds us of in Romans 12:1-2 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  Have a very Blessed 2017!

Jason Hicks

God in flesh

Christmas, at the heart, is the celebration of the incarnation of God in the flesh.  We believe that Jesus is God in the flesh by faith, not by reason.  However, this faith is reasonable and we can see signs that show this belief as reasonable.  I would present to you the observation that Phillip Brooks, a 19th-century preacher, when he describes Jesus’ humanity and deity this way:

Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman.  He grew up in another obscure village.  He worked in a carpenter’s shop until he was thirty, and then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.  He never wrote a book.  He never held an office.  He never owned a home.  He never had a family.  He never went to college.  He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born.  He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness.  He had no credentials but Himself.  He had nothing to do with the world except the power of His divine manhood.  While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him.  He was turned over to His enemies.  He was nailed on a cross between two thieves.  His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth while He was dying – His coat.  When He was dead, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.  And on the third day, He arose from the dead.  Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today He is the centerpiece of the Human race and the leader of the column of progress.  I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever were built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned put together have not affected the life of man on earth as powerfully as has the One solitary life.  The explanation?  He is the Son of God, the risen Savior.

Jarrod Scott

Christmas Funk Be Gone

You would think it was too early for the post-Christmas funk, what with Christmas still almost two weeks away and all.  Now, according to some very reliable websites, feeling less than yourself after the holidays is a very real condition more affectionately labeled Post-Holiday Depression.  But since it’s only the middle of December, the “post” part of the diagnosis seems a bit of a misnomer.  Consider the circumstances than any number of us might be enduring at this very moment.

In a matter of days, what many would consider to be the biggest day of the year will arrive, and it is your job to make it be as special and perfect as possible.  That means presents have to be bought, and presents have to be wrapped.  And a few weeks later, presents have to be paid for.  The house has to be decorated, starting with the putting up of a Christmas tree.  And then from what is usually the least-accessible storage area, decorations must be dragged out and put on display.  Some are still in the tradition of sending out Christmas cards, and how could the 25th come and go without enough food being prepared to feed your entire neighborhood?  Many are buried at work, and some are desperately in need of more.  There’s over-spending, over-committing, and on and on and on.

An article suggested to treat this time of year like any other to minimize the depression, and don’t pretend to be happy when you’re not, for that only adds to the blues.  Not very uplifting advice for “the most wonderful time of the year.”  Many pundits have their recipe for how to recover from one’s depression.  Most include things like expecting some sense of letdown, taking some small self-help steps, and continuing to seek out the relationships that sustain you throughout the year.  That sounds reasonable, though not extremely revelatory.

One writer reminded that Mary and Joseph had their own form of post-Christmas adjusting to do.  The baby Savior that they had been promised eventually came, and the anticipation was then gone.  The next year, they weren’t going to deliver another Messiah to mankind.  He was a one-of-a-kind gift.

Maybe treating this time of year as the gift that it is can take that funk and those blues and all your depression, and turn it into the joy it so deservedly should be.  It is His gift to us, remembered and celebrated each year.  Let’s start and end there, and leave all the rubbish behind.

Rich Holt