Holidays

Crisis Situations

Deeply Troubled?

    If your are greatly disturbed either spiritually, mentally or emotionally, it is imperative that you seek professional help IMMEDIATELY. Online resources and meetings are not to be confused with group therapy or professional counseling sessions.

    Phone the appropriate
    Hotline
    (worldwide listing) or Christian Counseling Ministry

Suicidal?

    Suicide National Hotline
    1.800.SUICIDE (1.800.784.2433)

    National Suicide Hotline
    1.888.248.2587

    National Youth Crisis & Suicide Hotline
    1.800.621.4000

    National Adolescent Suicide Hotline
    800-621-4000

Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" and the 12 Steps

Charles Dickens' 1843 novel, A Christmas Carol is the famous tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, an old miser who is visited by spirits representing the past, present and future. The novel, while set during the Christmas season, is a story of redemption. It's a wakeup call. It's a lesson on making amends. And it has the Twelve Steps all over the place.

Steps 4-12 heavily involve the "other" of wronged people in our lives, hurt by our destructive choices. They speak to our rebellion of the changed life we need to experience.

4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Less Is More: Experiencing Holiday Meaningfulness

This time of year is all about the "too much." There's too much food, too much temptation, too much decoration, too much noise, too much spending and too much stress. Anything which is already an existing reality, this time of year, is seemingly placed on steroids.

Ho. Ho. Ho. Jolly times.

A few years ago, an interior designer appeared on a morning talk show. She was there to offer helpful holiday décor tips for our homes. So, I was anticipating glitter, pipe cleaners, tinsel and every kitschy decoration known to man. I awaited pointers on how to transform each home into the Las Vegas strip.

So, it surprised me when she had some atypical advice...

Thoughts on Gratitude and Thanks

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

click on image to see video


In all circumstances! This comes as a surprise when one considers the vicissitudes of human life. Sickness and health, poverty and wealth, joy and sorrow--are all ingredients of the cup placed to human lips--so all must come within the scope of thanksgiving. Why be thankful for everything? Because God causes everything to work together for good to those who love Him.

~ ~ ~ ~

A godly farmer was asked to dine with a well-known gentleman. While there, he asked a blessing at the table as he was accustomed to do at home. His host said jeeringly, "That is old fashioned; it is not customary nowadays for well-educated people to pray before they eat."

The farmer answered that with him it was customary--but that some of those on his farm never thanked God their food.

"Ah, then," said the gentleman, "they are sensible and enlightened! Who are they?"

"My pigs!" the farmer answered.

~ ~ ~ ~

Charles Dickens said that we are somewhat mixed up here in America. He told an audience that instead of having one Thanksgiving Day each year, we should have 364. "Use that one day just for complaining and griping," he said. "Use the other 364 days to thank God each day for the many blessings He has showered upon you!"

Do You Overindulge During the Holidays?

I cracked up when I saw this image, stating, "This is me, thinking about Thanksgiving."

When you sit to dine with a ruler,
note well what is before you,
and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.
Do not crave his delicacies,
for that food is deceptive.
Proverbs 23:1-3

We're in the sea of overindulgence holidays. We're polishing off the Halloween candy; now we're headed into the choppy waters of Thanksgiving. And then there's more fun: Christmas and Hanukkah, followed by the reinvention promise of New Year's.

My raft is overturned.

Admit it, these holidays are raging seas for our appetites.

We often struggle not to drown.

For, we often believe the lie of the satisfied appetite.

Being this long in the game with my own issues, I'm learning that, when it comes to our tricky carnal natures, there's no such thing. When it comes to matter of the appetite, the name of the game is more, more, more! And then some more piled on top of that! There! That'll fix everything! That'll make everything all better!

So, we consume whatever, however and in whatever amounts we desire.But it's all deceptive; the appetite we struggle with seems to act as a spiritual barometer. It registers as our chosen God substitute. And, because it is only a substitute, a counterfeit attempt, at best, it never fulfills us. So, what's the answer we choose if we're not careful? Gimme more!

Mother's Day, Not Measuring Day

What's your reaction to this image? Can you relate? Did you and your mother actually participate in this activity together, treating it as a bonding thing, a game, a competition or a means of "self-improvement?"

Mother's Day. It is devoted to the remembrance and celebration of our mothers, those people who first loved us. And, perhaps, even, in the name of that love, diet and weight measurement were a part of that.

With my mom, I believe it was. She battled with her weight her entire life, certainly as long as I've known her. I discuss it in my book. Years later, I see how it wasn't intentionally done to harm me.

But, nevertheless, that focus on body image, weight and thinness did. It's not just my experience, not perhaps, not just yours, either. Studies have, indeed, shown its impact: I can relate.

"…The study, published this week in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, found that when a teen-age girl develops an eating disorder 'the mother-daughter relationship appears to contribute significantly.'

Kathleen M. Pike and Judith Rodin, who wrote the study, say they concluded this after comparing the test results of girls with eating disorders with those of girls who did not.

'It appears that some of the mother's own dieting and eating behavior and especially her

God’s Plan For You This Year

Have you thought about wrapping up the old year? How about plans for the new year?

It’s that odd time of year when we spend equal time looking to the past and the future. It’s sort of like doing taxes—you summarize the past year while figuring out what needs to change going forward.

One of my internal principles tells me to pay attention when I encounter the same issue in different contexts. I figure someone’s trying to tell me something. Recently I’ve run across a few folks who are asking, “What does God want me to do next?”

In the introduction to "Relentless Grace" I expressed my reluctance to claim that “God told me” to take a particular course. I won’t speak for anyone else, but I suspect I sometimes use “God’s plan” as an excuse to do what I wanted to do anyway.

I do believe that God speaks to us, and I certainly believe in His absolute sovereignty. Nothing is beyond His control; nothing escapes His attention.

Recovery, Choices and Holidays

"The doctor is real in."

Those words are written on a psychiatrist stand the character Lucy has in the Christmas classic, "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!"

That got me thinking. We're once again, at that festive time of year, with all of its parties, concerts, kiddie pageants and assortment of other holiday events. There seems to be an overwhelming amount of stuff to go to. And yet, during this festive season, it's more than difficult to get a doctor's appointment. Or is that just my experience?

When I was sixteen years old, I got the chicken pox at Christmas. Ho ho ho! There was not much I could do; there was no doctor I could see, because every single one of them were off for the holiday. So, it was me, the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life" (colorized version), some calamine lotion, a couch and itching. Because I didn't get chicken pox like most kids, at age six or seven and because I was this late bloomer, my stint with the itchy stuff lasted about three weeks. It was not a festive time.

And, years' later, I seem to have run into the same dilemma repeatedly whenever I try to schedule an appointment with the doctor or dentist. Most of the time, the doctor is real out. So, what's my option? Where do I go from there?

Well, there's a potential and dangerous choice out there, left unchecked; I could turn to my definition of a panacea. Instead of dealing with the discomfort and pain in the moment, I could choose to numb, escape from and soothe it. Sounds like classic addiction, doesn't it? We try to cope and turn to anything to attempt to make that happen. Those coping methods can include a wide variety of consumption choices for each one of us: food, alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, just to name a few. And the excuse we possibly use for turning to them? The doctor was out.

"Surviving the Holidays with a Dysfunctional Family" Workshop

note: Members may discuss this workshop in the Message Boards HERE

Welcome to our Special Workshop tonight
"Surviving the Holidays with a Dysfunctional Family" Workshop

For many, the Christmas season is not a time of warm cozy feelings and precious memories. For some, it is a time of reliving the nightmares of childhood abuse and not wanting to return home for Christmas. It is a reminder of broken relationships and children in the custody of “the other parent.” It is a season of struggles to stay clean and sober and out of trouble when attending Christmas gatherings. How can we not only survive, but also thrive during the Christmas season?

Handling Adversity During Christmas

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." John 14:1-4

What’s the ultimate adversity?

One week before Christmas, adversity may boil down to long lines at the mall or difficult weather conditions for holiday travel. My wife’s scrambling to prepare for a party and receiving little help from a spouse who’s glued to the keyboard—that’s adversity. But I’m thinking along the lines of something a bit more elemental.

One of my best friends is dying.

It’s not the Christmas gift we hoped for, but there it is. The conclusion of a courageous battle with a terrible enemy finally approaches, and we’ll soon have to accept the loss of his physical presence in our circle.

Death doesn’t fit nicely into the Christmas story. Birth and lights and gifts proclaim a priceless promise of hope and beginning. Tinsel and glitter prompt smiles and celebration. Christmas isn’t the time for sad farewells.

Except...

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