Reposting Enough

I posted this post a few years ago, but I thought its message of thankfulness coming after Christmas was fairly timely now, so here it is again!

Here we go…

Christmas is coming earlier for our family this year. We’re going out to see my side of the family for Thanksgiving this year and because of that, we can’t afford to go out for Christmas, too. As a result, we’ll be exchanging gifts with family early while we’ll be with them.

My family, on both sides, have been doing Amazon Christmases for many years. We all expect each other to put a variety of items on our Amazon wish lists, and we each pick out what we want to buy each other from those lists. It makes Christmas gifting fairly fool-proof (except for when Amazon malfunctions and doesn’t take items off our lists when they are purchased–one year we had multiple duplicates). In addition, we all feel pretty good that we’ve gotten each other something desired. This is especially useful in a family that lives far from each other.

It even temporarily solves the problem of the children asking for toys they saw at the store or at a friend’s house. “You want that? Put it on your wish list! You might not get it, but someone might buy it for you at Christmas or on your birthday.” This satisfies them for the most part.

The problem comes when the children want me to add yet another item to their wish lists. This usually occurs after a trip to Target when we’ve ventured into the toy aisles to buy a gift for a birthday party. They don’t want me to wait until after lunch or anything else–they are desperate, to the point of tears, to add that item now. It brings out the selfish “I want” in them, and they actually think they will not be happy unless they get that coveted seventh Star Wars Lego set or the Tinker Bell that actually flies. I tell them, “Having that one more thing will not make you happy. In fact, soon after you get it, you’ll just want one more thing until you learn how to be thankful for what you do have.” It’s so obvious when I see it in them and easy for me to condemn them…until I see it in me.

The other day I was busy adding to my wish list (knowing all along that several gift givers may have already done their shopping). I like to have lots of items on the list so the gift givers have more choices and so I’ll be more likely to be surprised. However, all that adding of items started waking the greed I had seen in my children. Dissatisfaction for what I already had started creeping into my heart.

Enough.

Do I really believe Jesus is enough for me? Do I believe He has given me all I need? How about that He “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing” (Ephesians 1:3)? Are spiritual blessings are even enough for me?

Recently my pastor did a sermon on this topic. It included a video showing how we go through our lives, never feeling like it’s enough. Life lived without Jesus isn’t enough and will never fully feel that way, and I know Jesus is the answer to that.When I go about living life without a thought for Him, it never feels enough.

I know He is enough, and yet I let my heart be turned by inconsequentials like a curling iron that promises to turn out those beachy waves I’ve been seeing on girls’ hair in magazines. I would never say it aloud, but do I think in my heart that I would somehow be better or that I would be closer to enough, if I could get my hair or fashion just right? Sure, I love Jesus, but will I truly be happy if I don’t have a new pair of boots, too? Sure, I already have one beautiful pair of black boots, but what about that pretty dark natural brown color I’ve seen on boots on so many women? And a colorful new infinity scarf, and, and, and…

Is it that Jesus isn’t enough for me or that I want to be enough for myself? I don’t think this has completely taken over my heart yet, but if I’m not careful, I think it could. I don’t think the wish list in and of itself is wrong, but when I start feeling dissatisfied with what I have and who I am just because of items I don’t have, then I have a problem.

May I be satisfied instead with my God and with the multiple blessings He’s given me. I have a journal that I’m very slowly filling up with thanksgiving, as I was challenged to do by Ann Voskamp in her book One Thousand Gifts (there’s a book to put on your Amazon wish list if you haven’t already read it). It’s apt that Thanksgiving comes right before Christmas. As I face the temptation to turn the focus of Christmas to what I’m going to get, I plan to dig deep in thanksgiving and try to teach my children to do the same. Maybe it’s a good thing my family is having Thanksgiving and Christmas at the same time.

“Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:14)

Is Your Tinsel in a Tangle? A Guest Post by Chris Wallace

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I’ve always looked up to my big brother Chris, and I’ve admired his witty way with words for a long time. He has a way with alliteration and knows how to turn a phrase in a new way that catches attention. What’s amazing is that while I sometimes labor over my writing words, working to find just the right word choice, he’s able to do this even while speaking without much thought at all. He can even do this bilingually, bringing out French words he learned in high school that I can’t remember even though I minored in the language in college. I especially appreciate his humble love for God and how he longs to follow Him well. I’m so glad he agreed to guest post for me today, on Christmas Eve. I hope you enjoy his words as I do. Merry Christmas!

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by Chris Wallace

That good old shiny, tin-coated, heavy lead tinsel was awesome! It had a dripping, glittering icicle effect hanging on the Christmas tree. You could fling just one strand at that Douglas fir, and it would cling to the pine needles like it was supposed to be there. As a little tinsel-totin’ tyke, I had a blast throwing pieces of it all over the tree, but when it came time to take all the ornaments down, it wasn’t so easy for me to take all those thin little strips off the tree without getting them all bent up and stuck together. And of course, just like my mom always saved all the bows from the opened presents, it was essential to preserve all of the glorious decorations for next Christmas, including the tinsel…you couldn’t buy the good stuff in the U.S. after 1972. Nowadays, most tinsel is just cheap, shiny mylar-coated plastic.

Why is it so important to us to decorate our Christmas trees and the rest of our homes with all that red, green and gold bling, and the lights on the house and the wreaths and so on? According to WhyChristmas.com,

“the evergreen fir tree has traditionally been used to celebrate winter festivals (pagan and Christian) for thousands of years. Pagans used branches of it to decorate their homes during the winter solstice, as it made them think of the spring to come. The Romans used fir trees to decorate their temples at the festival of Saturnalia. Christians use it as a sign of everlasting life with God.

The first person to bring a Christmas Tree into a house, in the way we know it today, may have been the 16th century German preacher Martin Luther. A story is told that, one night before Christmas, he was walking through the forest and looked up to see the stars shining through the tree branches. It was so beautiful, that he went home and told his children that it reminded him of Jesus, who left the stars of heaven to come to earth at Christmas.”

However it all started, many of us love the traditional trappings of the season as we surround ourselves with the beauty of all that reminds us of a source of Glory that we normally do not see in our daily lives. What exactly is this Glory we hear so much about in those classic Christmas carols every year?

As we read the redemption story in the Holy Scriptures in Luke 2, verse 9, “the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them.” The Glory of the Lord reminds us of the “Shekinah,” or cloud of intolerable brightness, which was a symbol of the divine presence in the Jewish Temple. Think magnificent splendor!

We long for the experience of this magnificent splendor. As creatures crafted in His image, we are drawn to the Source of the divine heavenly spirit that has been deposited within us. Yet we are often caught in a terrestrial tangle, straightening out the kinks in our inglorious daily quest for brilliance somewhere in the world around us. How do we find this Glory, even after all the glitz is in the garage?

I think John Piper is onto something in his book Desiring God (review here). In this magnificent look at our source of joy in God, he asserts that as Christians, our chief aim in life is to “glorify God by enjoying Him forever.” We experience this Glory when we allow ourselves to reflect His Glory by finding our joy in Him. So there is another component to this Glory, and it is joy! Joy to the World, The Lord is Come!

I think the thought is expressed well by John W. Peterson, who has written more than one thousand songs and fifteen cantatas that have sold more than three million copies. In this hymn he wrote in 1961, he recounts the powerful conversion experience of a man at the Montrose Bible Conference Grounds in Montrose, Pennsylvania:

O what a wonderful, wonderful day-
Day I will never forget;
After I’d wandered in darkness away,
Jesus my Savior I met.
O what a tender, compassionate friend-
He met the need of my heart;
Shadows dispelling, With joy I am telling,
He made all the darkness depart!
Heaven came down and glory filled my soul,
When at the cross the Saviour made me whole;

This man felt the true Source of Glory. It filled his soul, and he became full of joy. What is robbing you of joy this Christmas season? Is your tinsel in a tangle? This year, as you enjoy all that sparkles, will you look to Jesus the Glorious One to decorate the entire home of your heart?

Three Reasons Mary Was Favored by God, and Why We Can Be, Too

 

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by Heather Bock

Imagine an angel approaching you with the words, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you” (Lk. 1:28) and to follow with, “you have found favor with God” (Lk. 1:30). Yes, it might be more shocking that an angel is speaking to you in the first place. I also know these words spoken to Mary pale against the brightness of other words promising she would give birth to the Son of God, the Messiah her people had been expecting for at least 700 years.

All that put aside, think about just the words that Mary was favored, and that the Lord was with her. Would you not love to hear these words? Continue reading