Christmas

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...

Prayer for Those Who Struggle with the Holidays

Abba...this is a really hard time of year for so many.

Some are experiencing the first round of holidays and feasts without a loved one...
whether through death or a need for reconciliation.

Some are going through serious illness.

Some are experiencing great financial hardship.

Some are locked into bondages and/or addictions.

Abba, please touch each one, especially those who are reading this prayer and their loved ones.

I lift them all up to You, Abba.

You can bring healing...

where no one else can.

You can touch hearts...

Supporting the Newly Recovered During the Holidays

For most Christians, this is a special time of joy and celebration. Yet, it can be an extremely difficult and stressful time for those who are just beginning to recover from addiction to alcohol and drugs. Spending Christmas in a shelter or residential recovery program is hard.

Here's a few simple thoughts that can make the experience a little more tolerable:

A. Remember the spiritual significance of the holiday

    This time of year is a major commercial event for America's retailers. It is also a time for special celebrations of family and goodwill. Still, we must remember that Jesus is the Reason for the Season . Above all else, we are celebrating God's sending of His only Son to be our Savior and Redeemer. Keeping Christmas as a spiritual celebration puts all of our other expectations for the holiday season in proper perspective.

B. Don't isolate

    The holidays can be the loneliest time of the year for the recovering addict. One one hand, we are reminded of all the relationships we've messed up. Some will spend Christmas haunted by memories loved ones and friends they've alienated with destructive and manipulative behavior. We know, too, if we want to keep our sobriety, we must avoid people who are still using alcohol and drugs. What's the solution? Take advantage of the new sober acquaintances God has brought your way. Reach out to those around you and use this holiday season s as a special opportunity to get to know them better.

Guidance: A Lesson from "The Bishop's Wife"

A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.
Proverbs 16:9


During the holiday season, we're inundated with many Christmas movies: "It's a Wonderful Life," "Miracle On 34th Street," "Frosty the Snowman" and many variations of the Charles Dickens classic, "A Christmas Carol."

But one that my husband and I became aware of years ago is "The Bishop's Wife," starring David Niven, Loretta Young and the debonair Cary Grant. Indeed, Mr. Grant plays an angel, named Dudley, assigned to the bishop and his wife, as they are challenged with raising money for a cathedral.

The Fa-La-La-La-La of Holiday Stress?

It's so easy to feel intimidated and overwhelmed by all of the holiday treats available now. We give so much power to various "forbidden food." We wonder what the caloric and "fattening" damage may be concerning the buffet that's presented to us. We're so worried about what food is to us, we often don't think much about what we are to God.

What are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? Psalm 8:4

Yes, there's no sugar coating it (pun intended): the holidays are challenging to us all. We are faced with numerous, unique fears, memories, expectations and simultaneously occurring situations of /joy/terror/destruction. We can, however, take a second and look at another couple of real promises, as we

10 Questions to Ask at a Christmas GatheringPremium Content

Many of us struggle to make conversation at Christmas gatherings, whether church events, work-related parties, neighborhood drop-ins, or annual family occasions. Sometimes our difficulty lies in having to chat with people we rarely see or have never met.

At other times we simply don't know what to say to those with whom we feel little in common. Moreover, as Christians we want to take advantage of the special opportunities provided by the Christmas season to share our faith, but are often unsure how to begin.

Here's a list of questions designed not only to kindle a conversation in almost any Christmas situation, but also to take the dialog gradually to a deeper level. Use them in a private conversation or as a group exercise, with believers or unbelievers, with strangers or with family.

1. What's the best thing that's happened to you since last Christmas?
2. When was your best Christmas ever? Why?

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Holiday Traditions and Eating Disorder RitualsPremium Content

Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. Mark 7:13


The holiday season is all about traditions. Families build their own, everything from the food to the decorations to the outings.

Traditions can be wonderful. However, seen through the prism of eating disorder rituals, they can be imprisoning.

"Rituals are both a tactic not to eat and also a piece of obsessionality associated with anorexia. When eating disorders are starting, people will try to make it look like they are eating by cutting things up and shifting food around on the plate so as to not draw attention to how little they are eating." Cynthia Bulik, PhD, eating disorder specialist at the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill

Traditions, rituals - it all represents the same unrealistic expectation: perfection, happiness and a sense of safety.

These rituals can be anything such as counting to a specific number how many times one chews his/her food before swallowing, meticulously counting calories or eating from the same bowl and spoon. There’s an exacting precision attached to keeping these behaviors - and a dreadful fear if one is unable to do so.

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Twelve Steps to a Better Holiday SeasonPremium Content

1. We admitted that Thanksgiving and Christmas have a deeper meaning than drinking, drugging and overeating.

2. We came to believe that God, a power greater than ourselves, could help us see and celebrate the true meaning of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

3. We came to believe that God could help us appreciate the joyfulness of the season as intended by Him.

4. We made a searching and thorough examination of our relationship with our addictions, obsessions and overindulgences during the holidays.

5. We admitted to God the exact nature of our addictive habits and overindulgences during holiday seasons past.

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What Shall I Bring?Premium Content

Deuteronomy 16:13-17 NIV
Celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. Be joyful at your Feast--you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites, the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. For seven days celebrate the Feast to the LORD your God at the place the LORD will choose. For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete. Three times a year all your men must appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before the LORD empty-handed: Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the LORD your God has blessed you.

Though the above Scripture refers to the Feast of Tabernacles, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of Weeks, these are not what I was thinking about when I came before my Lord today. In fact, it was not even the Thanksgiving Holiday that so many of my American friends are celebrating today. Truly, it is Christmas ~ the Season that is on so many of our minds despite the fact that we do not celebrate its Eve for another month from today. Why am I thinking about this today? And why did I choose this Scripture on these Feasts to talk about Christmas?

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What If Christmas Isn’t Merry?


What pops into your mind when you think of Christmas?

Colored lights, tinsel, festive decorations? Familiar music, parties, family gatherings? Joy, the promise of a Savior, God with us?

How about death, loss, and grief? That’s probably not what you expected.

Christmas is a time for glad tidings of great joy, but we also must be sensitive to those for whom the holiday invokes painful memories and highlights difficult circumstances. This isn’t the cheeriest of holiday greetings. I hope you’ll forgive me for reminding us that we’re likely to encounter folks that can’t quite share our holly-jolly spirit.

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