Category Archives: Christmas

The Prince of Peace

This post is written by Laurence Vance and copied here today to remind everyone what we celebrate on Christmas Day.  See his entire post on the Lew Rockwell blog here.

Prince of Peace

The Prince of Peace bids men to come to him (Matthew 11:28); the god of war bids men to go fight foreign wars.

The Prince of Peace says it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35); the god of war says it is more blessed to kill than to be killed.

The Prince of Peace says to love your enemies (Matthew 5:44); the god of war says to kill your enemies.

The Prince of Peace is righteous (1 John 2:1); the god of war wants men to commit unrighteousness.

The Prince of Peace says to bless them that curse you (Matthew 5:44); the god of war says to curse them that curse you.

The Prince of Peace witnessed a good confession (1 Timothy 6:13); the god of war spouts lies.

The Prince of Peace says to do good to them that hate you (Matthew 5:44); the god of war says to do evil to them that hate you.

The Prince of Peace is the Son of God (Acts 9:20); the god of war is the enemy of God.

The Prince of Peace is the creator (Colossians 1:16); the god of war is the destroyer.

The Prince of Peace died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3); the god of war wants men to die for no reason.

The Prince of Peace rose from the dead (Acts 26:23); the god of war sends men to their deaths.

The Prince of Peace was sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7); the god of war wants men to sacrifice other men to him.

The Prince of Peace died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6); the god of war wants men to commit ungodliness.

The Prince of Peace was born of a virgin (Matthew 1:23); the god of war encourages men to violate virgins.

The Prince of Peace came in the flesh (1 John 4:20); the god of war is a destroyer of flesh.

The Prince of Peace glorified not himself (Hebrews 5:5); the god of war glorifies war.

The Prince of Peace is the bread of life (John 6:35); the god of war is the slayer of life.

The Prince of Peace redeems (Galatians 3:13); the god of war condemns.

The Prince of Peace is the light of the world (John 8:12); the god of war plunges the world into darkness.

The Prince of Peace is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25); the god of war is the wounder and taker of life.

The Prince of Peace was made to be sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21); the god of war wants men to commit sin.

The Prince of Peace is the mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5); the god of war is the separator of God from men.

The Prince of Peace is the Saviour of men (Titus 1:4); the god of war is the enemy of men.

The Prince of Peace forgives (Colossians 3:13); the god of war punishes.

The Prince of Peace suffered for us (1 Peter 2:21); the god of war wants men to suffer on the battlefield.

I hope you have a Merry Christmas, not a military one. Worship and serve the Prince of Peace, not the god of war.

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How to Survive the Holidays While Hurting [Podcast]

Surviving the holidays while hurting can seem impossible. Christmas is hard enough to deal with when life is good! When you are hurting due to a spouse’s infidelity, due to losing a job or financial issues, due to physical illness, due to personal issues such as depression, due to family issues, or for any reason, how are you supposed to survive?

In this week’s episode we finish the year with a question we are asked almost every year: “How am I supposed to have a holiday with my children when my spouse just walked out on me!  They don’t even know we have no money! WHAT DO I DO?”

Verses in this podcast:
I Peter 5:7 Cast your cares on Him for He careth for you

Matthew 6:26-34 regarding the birds of the air and the lilies of the field

Matthew 10:29-31 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny ? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Psalm 143:4 I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear. I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done. I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.

Next week we’ll begin our new four-week series “Caring for Your CHILDREN When There’s Been an Affair.”  We’ll talk about the ideal: what we are supposed to be teaching our children.  We’ll itemize what children NEED when one of their parents has an affair.  We’ll get into common pitfalls parents make when one has been unfaithful.  And we’ll end on letting God heal broken hearts!

[audio: https://s3.amazonaws.com/affaircare-podcast/Survive+Holidays.mp3]

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Christmas

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 

Luke 1: 46-55  And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord
     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
     for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.
 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.
 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful
    to Abraham and his descendants forever,
    just as he promised our ancestors.”

 

 

~The Christmas Story~

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,  and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Top Ten Gifts on HER list for free!!

Are you on a very tight budget and still looking for that perfect gift for her–so that you’ll have a reaction like the picture? Here are the things on her wish list that you can give her for FREE…and they will help kindle the love in your relationship.
1. Intimacy–And nope, I don’t mean sex. I mean opening up and being best friends and being emotionally close. I mean opening up and including her in your thoughts and feelings.

If you want to really strengthen your marriage and have a warm, loving, safe relationship with your bride, I would say give her the gift of intimacy. Share yourself, your life and your thoughts with her. Tell her how you feel. Be open to her and let her see the real you. One thing that extinguishes love quickly is being closed, not sharing your thoughts and feelings, and creating a life that excludes her. (And fellas, just so you know, when your gal is excluded she starts to feel less desired/desirable and sexual desire decreases). Sooo… #1 on her Christmas Wish List will definitely be: Give her YOU! She wants you.

2. Romance–UGH, I know the guys hate to hear this, but one of the best free gifts you can give her is to romance her like when you were dating. Now, I do have pity on you guys–romance can be hard to do on a daily basis, but here’s some practical assistance:  The Affaircare Romance Calendar.   This little calendar changes every month and has one daily suggestion for an idea for your sweetheart.  So if you are NOT the creative, Don Juan type, but you are in your heart, use that as an idea and even if the suggestion doesn’t work for you, pick another day.  Yes, it takes a little effort every day. Yes, it’s worth it.

3. Conversation–Okay this one is a little easier, in a way.  When you two wake up in the morning, when you’re back together after work, when you’re eating dinner, when you lay down to go to bed at night…take some time and talk to her with the TV off, no newspaper, and your PC turned off.  Give 100% attention and act like as if you are interested in her and her day.  It feels crummy when you talk to someone and they are halfway watching a show or reading something and you know that they aren’t really paying attention to you.  Also, I’ll be honest–eventually she’ll feel like this: “Do I have to set myself on fire to get your attention?”  Trust me–you don’t want to go there.  So take the time for her and her alone. The benefits are BIG!

4. Cheerlead–WHAT?  The macho males are supposed to be cheerleaders?  Yes!  Cheer on your bride.  People will tell her how great she is, how well she did or how proud they are, so you be the one with the loudest voice telling her first. And I’m not talking about false compliments here.  I mean see her for the amazing person she is and really make sure that she knows you see it.  Create that environment that when something great happens to her at work or at home, the very *first* person she thinks of telling is YOU.  If she does something you like or you’re proud of…tell her!  If she really tries to make a hard new recipe and it turns out great…tell her!  Be your wife’s biggest fan.

5. Sex–Hmmm…sort of a touchy, personal subject here and I do realize that different women react differently, but men… women like sex too!  There have been tons of books written about the differences between men and women but looking again at The Generous Husband one thing that guys often “don’t get” is that we are hard-wired to want sex when we feel safe, loved, and close to a man…and if one of those three is lacking, what happens is that we might even TRY to respond but physically we can’t get there.  Hey the fact is, our brain is our largest sexual organ!  On the other hand, when the lady in your life does feel safe, loved, and close to you, then WOW please feel free to be Mr. Sexy with her because it kindles that desire!  Again, part of feeling desire is to feel that you are desired…so on the occasion go with the rose petals and candles and at other times, be aggressive, make your move and take her like you can’t wait to get her clothes off!

6. Chores–This is another one that makes husbands roll their eyes but is actually a great gift! If your wife is a stay-at-home-mom, she likely is “on duty” 24hr./7 days a week for laundry, dishes, dinner, picking up the house, and actually cleaning (like with comet and mops).  So while you may work 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday–she works midnight to 11:59pm Sunday to Saturday.  If your wife is a career woman, then just like you, when she gets home from working all day, she has a list a mile long of chores she has to get done around the house just for cleaning and daily “wear and tear.” My point is that no one can feel lovely and sexy when there’s laundry to get done before tomorrow, the baby is crying and has a fever, and there’s a sink full of dishes.  If you were to both work on all three together though, she would feel grateful for the help and like someone was on her side helping…and that leads to feeling close which leads to feeling loved and sexy.  So yep–man up and change that diaper or scrub that sink, and give her a hug while ya do it.

7. Play–again, this one can be fairly easy. Play together.  Remember when you first met how you used to chase her around and try to tickle her?  Remember how you used to tell jokes and laugh at each other?  Remember how she would go to ballgames with you, and you’d go to ballet with her (even though neither one of you really were fans of it)?  People have fun together and enjoy each others’ company in a thousand ways, but this year for Christmas, give her that fun back.  My Dear Hubby and I *LOVE* to play video games together, create RPG’s together, go camping together, watch football together, and watch movies together. What do you just LIKE to do with your bride?

8. Family–Oy “family” is a tricky one.  Give your wife the gift this Christmas of firmly and devotedly defending her and picking her above all others, whether that means against your family or her family.  One thing that REALLY extinguishes love (and quickly!) is the feeling that given the chance to back her or someone else, you pick someone else…and that includes your mother or your daughter!  When it comes to family, you have the chance to really be a “knight in shining armor” and jump to her aide and defend her, but that sometimes means you have to stand up to other people you love. Here’s the thing: I think everyone would like to believe that our spouse would choose us over everyone else in the world. I know that women often fall in love with or feel love for someone who can periodically “rescue” them (and I don’t mean in an unhealthy way).  But imagine the two scenarios: your wife makes a “family faux pas” and forgets to buy a gift for Uncle Jim; your mother criticizes her in front of everyone in less that glowing terms.  #1–You agree with mom and can’t believe she forgot your relative.  Your mom thinks you’re a good son but your wife feels like she’s fighting all alone and you have to go home with her. Where do you end up sleeping?  #2–You stand up to your mom and say it could have happened to anyone or tell her to please speak to your wife more respectfully.  Your mom is a little miffed that you called her on it but your wife thinks you jumped to her rescue and you have to go home with her.  Where do you end up sleeping?

See what I mean?

9. Gussy up–Okay this one goes both ways a little.  She used to look SO AMAZING in that sexy outfit with her hair done up…remember that?  Well life may have intervened a little, children may have come, etc. and some of her physique may have changed a bit, but if she makes the effort to gussy up for you, look at her as if she was that beautiful bride that you could NOT take your eyes off of.  Notice her hair cut, color, makeup and outfit every day.  Say something about it.  Did she offer to wear some lingerie for you?  DROP EVERYTHING and act interested.  And this goes for you too guys…you look like James Bond when you gussy up a little yourself.  So take off the jeans and tee with the stain, and gussy up for your bride.  Do your hair–add some cologne–wear a night shirt and pants that look GOOD on you.

10. Finances–When single men and women fight, they often go to this argument: (Woman) “All you want a woman for is a trophy wife!” (Man) “Yeah? Well all you want a man for is his wallet!”  Fellas, this may seem like an odd gift to give your bride for Christmas, but again trust me, it’s on her wish list somewhere.  This day and age many women are perfectly capable of “providing for themselves” and yet part of being a wife and mother is safety, and as a wife and mother it is a horribly unstable feeling if you’re worrying about becoming homeless or feeding your children.  Now I do realize that not everyone can be in perfect financial condition, and that sometimes women can want a certain lifestyle that you just can’t attain!  But one gift you can give your bride is that firm, safe feeling of knowing that you will work WITH her on the finances so that things are taken care of.  If you two are in financial straits now, give her the gift of making movement toward straightening up the finances!  Just as it would be a huge burden for you to have to “provide for” the family alone, show her that she’s safe and won’t be left alone to take care of herself and the kids.

And there you have it!  Ten gifts that are sure to be on her Christmas Wish List and that you can her for free.

What To Do When You are Hurting for the Holidays

As I mentioned in my previous article, not everyone has perfect holidays.  Many people are hurting for a variety of reasons.  So today let’s talk about what to do when you are hurting for the holidays.

Let’s talk about WHY you’re hurting:

Have you lost your job this year?  Are you running out of ways to keep your house out of foreclosure?  Are you behind on your bills?  Is you electricity and water shut off?  Can’t afford to eat AND pay your bills?  No money for the presents you think your family or children want?

Dear reader, our God is not a vending machine.  If you have made some bad choices and are now experiencing the costs of the decisions you made, God is not magic and He won’t just magically make money appear out of thin air.  But He IS the King of the universe and the Creator of heaven and earth.  He is omniscient and He CARES for you (I Peter 5:7 says “Cast your cares on Him for He careth for you”).   Like Jesus told his disciples, the birds of the air and the lilies of the field do not worry about their next meal or their clothes, and yet God provides for them, and He will provide for you too.  It may not be what you “want” but I guarantee it will be what you “need.”   Go to the Lord with your financial cares and have faith in His promises.

During this holiday season, remember this is a time of giving…AND RECEIVING, and it is completely okay to allow others the joy of giving to you!  Yes it can be hard to swallow your pride and admit you need help, but there are people who care about you and your family–let them help you.

Are you ill?  Is someone you love ill?  Are you utterly SPENT emotionally and physically just taking care of someone and don’t have the energy to also “celebrate”?  Are you facing death?  Are you afraid?

Dear reader, our God is the Creator of each of one us and He even numbers the hairs on our head  (Matt. 10:30).  He IS the Great Physician and although that doesn’t mean you should stop your medication or stop your treatments, it does mean that our God is more than capable of healing you, emotionally or physically.  We all get older; we all feel the changes as we age and grow more frail; and our lives do end, but in this time of illness or caring for a loved one, our God is a very present help in times of trouble (Ps 46:1).

During this holiday season, remember this is a time of loving, and it is completely okay to love your ill spouse by serving them when they can not pay you back.  It is completely okay to love your own self when you are ill and give yourself time to recuperate…and to only do the holiday things that you can do.  If you can only lie in bed and unwrap presents then so be it…that’s fine.

Are you struggling with personal issues like depression, bipolar mania, or a spouse or child who has mental health issues?  Does this time of year bring up triggers of old hurts such as a loved one passing away or your spouse’s infidelity?

Dear reader, our God is a God of compassion.  Sometimes issues like this can cause guilt or shame that stop a person from praying, and I encourage you to speak out the sorrow of your soul in prayer.  King David wrote in the Psalms: “I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear.  I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done. I lift my hands to you in prayer.  I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.” (Psalm 143:4)  King David was PARALYZED in his pain!  Does this strike a cord with you?  I encourage you to follow King David’s example and bring it to the Lord…as it is…a big, old, blob of painful mess.  God knows you’re having a hard time so don’t try to hide it–be honest.  Come to Him as you are.  But then follow his example further: King David purposefully brings to mind the ways God has helped him in the past.  He takes control of his own thoughts and examines them.  Where he has been believing lies, he changes.

During this holiday season, don’t depend on your spouse or your family to make you happy.  Don’t depend on your church to make you feel welcome or accepted.  Look to the Lord and bring your burdens to Him.  And as a little challenge I would challenge you to reach out to one person…one.  I will bet you that all around you are people just like you who are sad or hurting, who are wishing that someone would notice their pain and reach out in comfort.  If you are wishing someone would notice you and hug you and help…offer that to one other person.  It could be a co-worker, a family member, a neighbor, the “perfect lady” at church, a person in the nursing home down the road, or a homeless person.  Offer to one other person the caring and hug that you wish someone would offer you.

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Not Everybody Has Perfect Holidays

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Not everybody has perfect holidays

The economy is tough right now and many people are out of work, so they can barely pay there bills.  There just isn’t money for presents.

Some people are ill or have a loved one in the hospital.   Some people are alcoholic, addicted, mentally ill or clinically depressed, and the holidays just are not HAPPY.

Some people have a spouse who is committing adultery or who had an affair, and this year they are with the other person having the time of their lives, while the faithful spouse is home alone and left trying to explain to kids why “mommy” or “daddy” isn’t with them for Christmas.

Coping with “less than perfect” holidays starts with going easy on yourself. Here are some ideas to accept:

  • It’s okay if the holidays can’t be what they once were.  Just because you once had thousands of dollars to spend on presents doesn’t mean you do this year…and if you did it last year it doesn’t mean you have to do it this year.  Let the past BE in the past, and do what you can do this year.
  • There is no right or wrong way to celebrate the holidays.  You don’t have to get brand new electronics for Christmas, or spends thousands of dollars on decorating and the electric bill for lighting the whole house in Christmas lights.  Ask yourself what you want and ask your children what they want.  It is perfect acceptable to celebrate Christmas by spending the day in your pajamas, watching all 3 Lord of the Rings movies, and ordering a pizza if that is what would be celebrating to you.  Sometimes you feel like it’s expected of you…and other people don’t expect it at all!
  • Taking care of yourself must be a priority.  Yes I know the Holidays are a season of giving and thinking of others, but it is okay, during this season, to also take care of yourself .  I don’t mean you should be selfish or self-centered but it is reasonable, especially if you are going through financial worries, illness, or marital difficulties to take some time to care for you.

Here are some coping techniques:

  1. Don’t lose your faith.  Many people become angry with God when they lose their job, encounter a chronic illness, or lose their spouse.  “Where was HE?!!” they wonder.  “Why didn’t He stop this?”  During this time of trial, it can feel very painful and even lonely, but feelings do not determine the truth;  GOD determines the truth.  He has made promises to us:
    • that He will never leave us or forsake us (Deut. 3:16),
    • that He has plans for good and not for harm for our future (Jeremiah 29:11),
    • that He will give us rest  if we are weary and our burden is heavy (Matt. 11:28 and 29),
    • that He will give power to the weak (Isaiah 40:29-31)
    • that He will supply all our needs (Phil 4:19),
    • that NOTHING will separate us from Him (Romans 8:37-39).  
  2. Give yourself permission to “not be perfect”.  So often we hold ourselves to just IMPOSSIBLE standards.  If you can not decorate a tree–see if the kids want to do it, or enjoy the tree at the courthouse this year.  Make some adjustments in what you can do, and do the things you can do with joy.  If it’s not perfect….well oh well!  Big deal.
  3. Make new traditions.  Your old traditions about sharing a big family dinner together may not work anymore, and since there is no “right” and “wrong” way to celebrate the holidays, make NEW traditions that fit with the circumstances you’re in right now.  If you don’t have the finances–go to a meal at your church and enjoy the company of your church family.  If you are ill–go out to Christmas dinner and enjoy not having to do the dishes!   If your family is torn in two by an affair or the kids are grown up and out of the house–have a potluck meal and invite those who don’t HAVE a family to share the day with you.
  4. Volunteer.  So often we think of “what we don’t have anymore” and get depressed that we don’t have the money or don’t have the health or don’t have the family…and we forget what we DO have.  To break out of that cycle, instead of staying home and thinking of what you’ve lost, go to a nursing home and volunteer time with someone who would love to talk to you.  Volunteer to be Santa and pass out candy canes at your child’s school.  Go to the homeless shelter and share coffee and a meal with someone who has no home in the winter.  Go to your local animal shelter and care for an innocent, faithful, loving animal.   Trust me, suddenly your life won’t seem quite so bad and you’ll remember what you DO have.

Luke 2 – The Birth of Jesus

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.  (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,  and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Ten things you DON’T have to do during “The Holidays”

Here it is–“The Holidays”–and as if the stress of all those parties, decorating, presents, relatives, and the expectation to make the Holidays “perfect” were not enough, your spouse is having an affair and everything has turned upside down!  When your spouse has turned into their Evil Twin, and they are trying to say the kids are okay sharing the holidays with the Other Person, and you feel everything you believed in has been shaken and crumbled…HOW are you supposed to get through The Holidays?  I’ve noticed lately that when I write an article, I tend to write almost a whole book, so in an effort to make it easier and a little shorter, here are ten things you just DO NOT have to do this year during The Holidays, while your spouse is having an affair:

1.  Pretend like “everything is okay.”  It is okay to tell some people–like a supportive sister, a pro-marriage friend, or someone you trust–that things just are NOT okay.  It’s also okay to let your kids know that this Christmas you feel sad and so it may not quite be exactly like some of the other years.

2.  Compete with your spouse (or soon-to-be-ex) over the kids.  They are just as much a parent in your kids’ lives as you are, and yet it’s not a competition to see who can spend more to buy their love.  The kids know which parent puts them to bed at night, helps them with homework, makes dinner, and takes time to actually be with them…and no amount of presents can buy that.  So if your unfaithful spouse buys your kids a bunch of stuff…let your kids enjoy the stuff they’ve been blessed with.  It’s not a competition and their love can’t be bought.

3.  Buy a gift for every branch of your family tree, all your co-workers, and everyone you’ve ever known.  Some gifts can be hand made.  Some gifts can be baked.  And the financial fact is that this year you may just have to trim that list back with a hedge-clipper. Well, so be it!  Christmas is about helping folks less fortune and celebrating the birth of the Savior–not “bigger, better, more expensive” presents.

4.  Put on the “perfect Christmas feast for 20″ all by yourself.  This year let someone else host the feast…or if it has to be at your house, ask for some help or hold it pot luck!  One year I told all my friends they could come and share food and caroling but in order to come in the door they had to bring something to share for six others.  Use paper plates….no one will care!

5.  Go into debt to buy presents.  So your spouse and the other woman are buying your kids a trip to Disneyland, huh?  Or a new touchscreen cellphone with unlimited minutes?  Don’t try to outdo them or go into debt to keep pace.  Give what YOU can afford to give and give it with love.  Take them ice skating and to hot chocolate afterward…for free!  Go tobogganing and let them laugh over mom/dad going over a bump!

6.  Go to every single holiday event to which you are invited.  Just learn to say no.  There is only so much that you can do, and it’s hard enough to sleep anyway!  Pick certain events that have a deep meaning to you (like your kids’ performances and that one church service) and to all the rest say “Thanks for thinking of me, but this year I’m afraid I need to say no.”  It’s okay.

7.  Make 12 dozen cookies for “Bobby’s class” when 3 dozen will do.  Actually I don’t need to explain this one, do I?  We all do this and demand so much more of ourselves than necessary.  Just look at the things you DO choose to do, and ask, “Am I going overboard here?  Am I holding myself to unrealistic expectations?”  If so, then get back to reality!

8.  Keep up with the Jones’ and light up your house like the Griswold’s.  Okay the lights on the house, and the perfect tree, and the garland, and the cards, and the candles, and the pine cones…OY!  It can be exhausting.  Pick the top three that are “must do” for you,  and do those three.  Then one by one add the next decorations if you have the energy–and if not, then don’t stress.  Maybe this year rather than sleighing to the forest to hand chop the perfect tree, allow yourself to go to the little tree place in town and pick a pre-cut one for $20.  Hey why not?

9.  Be perfect, look perfect, or “be happy all the time.”  Here’s the truth: your spouse is having an affair and is with another person and no part of you feels “perfect.”  So don’t try to make yourself be or look “happy”!  If you feel sad, on the occasion feel sad.  If you don’t feel like wearing red and green and being jolly, then be who you are and feel how you feel and let some people know.  Okay comb your hair and brush your teeth, yes.  Put on new, clean clothes every day, yes.  Be happy because it’s “The Holiday“?  NO!  Do the best you can, and maybe this is the perfect year to start a new tradition of NOT doing something just because you don’t feel like it this year.

10.   Eat only cookies, chocolate, and eggnog while staying up all night trying to get everything done.  This time of year is notorious for bad eating and sleeping habits.  Yes it’s easy to grab, but don’t grab just those two cookies for breakfast…or only coffee with eggnog creamer either!  If you want to have any energy at all it is important to remember that you need to eat nutritiously and get rest.  So, eat your fruits and vegetables and go to bed at 9pm if you feel tired.  It’s okay.

Prince of Peace

Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)


“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

It’s the second week of Advent, which is the week of Peace, so I wanted to take a moment to write about peace.

So often we have this vision of peace that is laid-back, pacifist, compromising, and non-confrontational.  We envision a doormat who’s peacefulness is taken advantage of and who is a “Casper Milquetoast” kind of guy.  Or sometimes we might think of someone who’s a hippie and into “Peace and love,man!  Love everybody!”
In the Old Testament the word used for peace is “shalom”and according to Strong’s Lexicon that word was translated: “peace, well, peaceably, welfare, salute, prosperity, did, safe, health, peaceable” and “pay, peace, recompense, reward, render, restore, repay, perform, good, end, requite, restitution, finished, again, amends, full.”  In New Testament Greek the word for “peace” is “eirene”  which means “have peace, be at peace, one, rest, quietness.”

The concept of “peace” is actually tied to the fourth commandment: “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.”  Is that really a commandment to go to church on Sundays or telling Jews to go to shul on Saturdays?  Not really–although I’m pretty sure our pastors or rabbis might want it to be!   The concept of that commandment is to never, ever forget the “Sabbath rest” we are able to enjoy due to God’s work.  When God created the universe, He was not “tired”–He rested as symbol of the Sabbath rest to come–the saving work of His Son–and *THAT* is what He wanted us to remember.  God’s work was that while we were sinners, and undeserving of ANY peace or rest–Christ died for us. While we were in a pit of doing what we knew was wrong and not doing what we knew was right, and digging ourselves deeper every day, God became flesh (that’s what this Advent anticipation and Christmas is all about) and lived among us.  He lived the perfect life and did not deserve death–we were NOT perfect and were dead already!  But Christ took our punishment, bore our blame, and died on our behalf.   He lifted us up out of the hole and now we are at rest! The fourth commandment is to “Remember the Sabbath rest to keep it holy” — and when we believe Christ died and rose again for us–then WE are at peace. The kind of peace Isaiah was talking about when he wrote those prophetic words.

Do you have troubles in your marriage? Are you facing infidelity? First come to the peace of Sabbath rest–believe Christ died and rose again for you, in your place.  Once you are at peace with God, He’s already lifted you out of the pit you were digging, so you are at peace with HIM! Then you can give God your marriage, dwell in peace with your spouse, (aka harmony, calmness, contentment, and tranquility) and let God change you.

A Christmas Story

Luke 2: 1-16

1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 “ Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.