Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, And Happy New Year!

Standard

christmas-tree

There is a season (a time appointed) for everything
and a time for every delight and event or purpose under heaven—
Ecclesiastes 3:1 AMP

This is the season of falling leaves and bare trees…when most things green lose their vibrant colors and morph into dismal browns and grays. Perhaps that’s the reason that the celebration of Halloween is scheduled for this time of year. Halloween with its ghosts, goblins, witches, jack-o-lanterns and all things that pertain to the macabre, is not unlike the dead leaves that cover the ground leaving the trees resembling naked skeletons.

Most Christians don’t celebrate Halloween as such, but have Fall Festivals and Trunk or Treat. The attendees are encouraged to dress as characters that don’t necessarily celebrate the dark side as they go from car to car in the church parking lot receiving candy from the trunks. There are often rides and games and face painting…fun times in a safe atmosphere!

The objects associated with Halloween, however, conjure feelings of fear, darkness and demon spirits. Things of which, we as Christians don’t want to be a part. Therefore we have reinvented its meaning to our children and allow them to participate according to our definition. But as I was thinking about all of this, I had an interesting idea come to mind regarding the connotation of Halloween and its placement in the holiday season.

Following closely behind Halloween on our yearly holiday docket is a lovely event called Thanksgiving! Simply enunciating the word “Thanksgiving”, diametrically opposed to Halloween, evokes feelings of warmth and contentment. My first thoughts are of extended family, turkey and dressing, pumpkin pie and lots and lots of chatter and laughter as everyone catches up on a year’s worth of events in a single day! What a contrast to Halloween and its dismal mental pictures of death and destruction. Thanksgiving doesn’t have to have its story rewritten to allow children to participate. On the contrary, it is an uplifting story of adventure, hardship overcome, cooperation, goodwill and overwhelming thankfulness for overflowing blessings from God. How fitting that it should follow behind Halloween and not precede it!

And next on our list, always anticipated immediately after Thanksgiving is the unprecedented holiday that we wait for all year…Christmas! Christmas…the season of brotherly love, giving, jingling bells, carols and intense shopping. But most importantly, it is the celebration of the ultimate gift to mankind…Jesus Christ the Son of God, Emmanuel, Prince of Peace! All things good are encapsulated in this glorious time of year. Its contagion spreads to those who believe and those who do not. Only those who are absolute in their refusal are not affected by this magical time of year. And for Christians, it brings joy unspeakable, as we remember the origin of our faith and the birth of our Savior as we sing with the angels, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace, goodwill toward men!”

We barely and grudgingly let go of Christmas when another holiday sticks its head around the corner and bids us a “Happy New Year”! We look forward to new, bold beginnings as we jot down or make mental notes of our new year’s resolutions. And although many of us don’t keep all of them in the long run, still hope is instilled as we meditate on the possibilities of changed attitudes, changed body shapes, changed monetary situations and a bright future ahead.

So in summary, you might say that “Halloween”, the Holiday of The Macabre, gives way to “Thanksgiving”, The Holiday of Thankfulness that makes way for “Christmas”, The Holiday of Love that ushers in “New Year’s Eve”, The Holiday of Hope. And as the cycle begins again…we hope on and dream on and live on for another year of celebrations!

WATCH OUT FOR THE SPEED BUMPS

Standard

speed-bump
The temptations in your life are no different
from what others experience.
And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation
to be more
than you can stand. When you are tempted,
He will show you a way out so that you can endure.”
I Corinthians 10:13 NLT)

Life is not a bed of roses…and even if it was, you would still have the thorns! There is light at the end of the tunnel…but still you have to go through the tunnel! Every cloud has a silver lining…but a storm usually precedes its splendor!

I could go on and on with the sayings we’ve heard regarding the difficulties of life. But by this time, you’re probably saying, “Stop! Enough of this twisted optimism.” Indeed it is twisted. Since the time Adam sold his birthright to Satan for the knowledge of good and evil, man has been engaged in the same conflict…physical against spiritual. And unless you have the champion of our faith, Jesus Christ on your side, there is no contest! You lose!

Now when I’m speaking of spiritual, I’m speaking of both good and evil…for both exist in the spiritual realm. Some people aren’t aware of that and believe that spirituality only alludes to good and positive things. Not so! Satan himself is a spirit being and represents the most evil of intentions and inventions. It’s important to know that when bad things happen, he was ultimately the instigator. Never allow yourself to think that God brings bad things into your life. On that subject the Bible says, Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God” [for temptation does not originate from God, but from our own flaws]; for God cannot be tempted by [what is] evil, and He Himself tempts no one. (James 1:13 AMP)

For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin.” (Hebrews 4:15 AMP) “So submit to [the authority of] God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him] and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7 AMP)

When we think of temptation, we usually think of the enticement to sin. But you can also be tempted by the adversities of life…tempted to be negative…tempted to give up! “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials [temptations] for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine.”
(I Peter 1:6-7a NLT)

I was talking with a friend the other day, and something she said gave me a perfect illustration of the unavoidable trials and temptations we face in life. Have you ever been traveling on an unfamiliar street and all of a sudden without any warning, there is a huge speed bump ahead? Before you can brake the car enough to make much of a difference, you are suddenly air-born! Your head hits the top of the car, the kids are squealing, the dog is barking and it takes you a moment to recover!

The speed bumps of life (trials and temptations) can also cause us untold and unexpected trauma. But just as you don’t park the car and say, “I’m never driving again!!!” You don’t stop believing and trusting and running the race. You continue to persevere, holding fast to your faith and confidence that the Lord will bring you through to the light at the end of the tunnel and to the silver lining on the other side of the cloud!

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope
without wavering,
for He who promised is faithful.
(Hebrews 10:23 NKJV)