Practices for Christmas: Practice Peace (Practices For The Holidays #5)

One of the names Isaiah gives to the Messiah is “Prince of Peace”. But do we really believe that? I mean, do we really believe that Jesus brought and initiated peace? Isaiah was certainly talking about Jesus’ first coming, not his second. It’s found in the famous “For unto us a child is born” passage in Isaiah 9. But do we believe Isaiah? Did Jesus really bring peace?

Let me ask you this: is the world peaceful? That’s one we don’t have to think about too long, isn’t it? The world is definitely not peaceful. Here’s the hard question: Why isn’t the world peaceful? Depending on your viewpoint, there are many answers. The world’s not peaceful because of those violent Muslim extremists or those violent Christian extremists. The world’s not peaceful because of those right-wing Continue reading

Practices For Christmas: Identify With Someone (Practices For The Holidays #4)

What is Christmas about? Yes, I realize that’s a huge question. But seriously, what is Christmas about?

We are going to explore that question and ask how we might put what we learn into practice as we work our way through the Advent season.

One thing Christmas is about is God coming to earth. God crammed his huge, invisible, immortal, infinite self into a tiny human baby. God, in all his majesty and might, became a little baby who relied on human parents just like every other human baby. Jesus relied on his parents to provide food, to change his clothes, to potty-train him. Jesus relied on Mary and Joseph to raise him into a man. Why? Why did God do this? To have relationship with us, because he loves us.

So how can we practice this in daily life during the Advent season? The first practice for Christmas is to Continue reading

Practices For Thanksgiving: Send A Note (Practices For The Holidays #3)

The first practice for Thanksgiving was to make a list of things we are thankful for.

The second practice for Thanksgiving was to give something away.

The third practice for Thanksgiving is to send a note. Buy a card. Grab a pen and paper. Make a phone call. Let someone know that they have done something or given something that you are thankful for.

What is the value of doing this? Well, the first benefit is pretty obvious—it lets the giver know that their gift was appreciated. Someone has taken the time to bless someone else, and they deserve to know that whatever they did or gave was beneficial.

The purpose of this practice goes deeper than this, though. Truth is, we need to be thankful people. We need to be grateful for what we have, instead of just consuming it and moving on to the next thing. We also need to actively realize that we cannot make it through life without the help of other people. We need each other. Take a look around you. What do you have that you have acquired totally and completely by yourself. Did you buy your house with cash, or did the bank help you? Did you make the clothes you wear or grow the food you eat?

We need to be thankful for others and for what they have done for us. And for those of us who are Christians, or at least theists, we realize that this truth—that we rely on others—reveals a greater truth; namely that there is Someone higher we rely on.

We need to be thankful people. So here’s your challenge—send a note or make a phone call. Let someone know that you are thankful for them.

Practices For Thanksgiving: Give Something Away (Practices For The Holidays #2)

The first practice for Thanksgiving was to make a list of things we are thankful for.

The second practice for Thanksgiving is this: give something away. What is the best book you’ve read in the last year? Best movie you’ve seen? Best album you’ve heard? Share it. Give your copy away, or buy another copy and give it away.

One of the joys of having things is sharing the joy you get from them. I loved the TV show Alias when it was originally Continue reading

Practices For Thanksgiving: Make A List (Practices For The Holidays #1)

Here in the Western Protestant world, we tend to shy away from Spiritual Practices and Disciplines, except for Bible reading, prayer, and perhaps fasting.  We tend to understand some of them as too mystical, and others of them as “earning our salvation”, in a sense.

Yet, practices have value.  They can help us put first things first.  They can help us focus on God and what he has done for us.  Spiritual practices and disciplines can be a way to allow God into our daily lives, outside of our church attendance.

With this post, we are starting a new series titled “Practices For The Holidays”.  Through November, I will be offering suggestions of ways that we can meaningfully recognize Thanksgiving in our own lives, then through December, I will do the same for Advent.  This will continue throughout the year, according to the Church Calendar.  The goal will be to draw out the meaning of the Holidays in the midst of our everyday lives.

So that brings us to the first practice for Thanksgiving: make a list. Make a list of all that you have that you don’t need.

No, seriously, go get a pen and paper and make a list. Continue reading