4 Ways to Resemble the Whos from Whoville Instead of the Grinch

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” sang the Whos from Whoville. Even the happy little tots of this euphoric town belted it out joyfully. It wasn’t about the stuff, the lights, or the decorations. No, their joy was not dependent on what they saw when they woke up Christmas morning. They had joy in their hearts.

I wouldn’t mind living in Whoville this time of year. Where is it? Can anyone tell me? Most of what I see seems to be about the shopping, the stuff, the decorations, and of course, the peppermint mochas.

If you came to my town and took away our Christmas decorations, our trees, and our presents, you probably wouldn’t hear singing on Christmas morning.

Every year as I get older, the month of December seems to get harder. Is it just me? As I look in the mirror, it is Scrooge looking back at me. Or, is it the Grinch? Is my heart two sizes too small?

My Christmas challenge every year is to exude more joy and peace, and less frustration and doom. More of the positive, less of the negative. The more my eyes are opened to the truth of God the more my eyes are opened to the truth of this world. And it is hard not to let the darkness overwhelm me. Baby steps, I tell myself.

If I remember to do four things this holiday season maybe I can still inspire joy despite the darkness inside.

Christmas is loving

Christmas is about loving. Honestly, everyday should be about loving. How well am I loving my neighbors? How well am I loving my parents, siblings, spouse, or kids? How well am I loving the homeless guy on the street? The waitress at the restaurant? The guy at the toll booth on the freeway? The baggers at the grocery store?

Jokingly, I sometimes refer to myself as the grim reaper. I know I have a dark side. However, I can’t be loving and the grim reaper at the same time. They don’t go together. I have to choose one or the other.

So, I will choose love.

Christmas is giving

If you get annoyed with the materialism of Christmas, I feel your pain. A great way to combat the negativity is to give, then give, then give some more. Channel your irritated energy into passionate and wildly generous giving.

I will choose to give.

Christmas is inviting

If I invite someone into my home, as a gesture of goodwill and compassion, my heart and attitude change. I am not talking about Grandma Nibby, or the family I expect to see at Christmas, unless I am trying to reconcile an estranged relationship. I am talking about someone that doesn’t belong.

Invite someone to Christmas that isn’t necessarily your favorite person. Invite someone into your small group of friends that you haven’t wanted to include, but could use some friends. Give someone a chance that isn’t necessarily the most polished candidate.

I will choose to invite.

Christmas is letting go

My daughter is home sick from school. When she isn’t feeling good, she reverts back to her four-year-old self. This morning she was on the couch watching Frozen. “Let it go” echoed around the house.

What can I let go of this year? I can think of a few things. I can let go of anger, let go of judgement, let go of complaining, and do my part in letting go of division and alienation. Why wait until January to let go of the sin that weighs us down?

What are you holding on to?

Do you need to let go of that fight that caused you not to speak to your sibling for the last decade? Or, let go of political views for the holidays for the sake of peace? Or, do you need to let go of being right?

Let’s make a pact to let it go. Whatever your “it” is.

Merry Christmas and bah humbug! It’s a package deal this year.

 

Is Your Faith Contagious? 3 Things Teenagers Need To See In Their Parents

On a mission, I grabbed the Clorox wipes and hurried to the kitchen. All I could see was a teeming cesspool of germs. My daughter had just gotten over the flu and strep. So, I wiped down the refrigerator handles, the microwave, the faucets, door handles, and the knobs on the stove.

It has been a rough winter in our household. We have all been sick a lot. Thank goodness for the MinuteClinic! In-out-on antibiotics-and back to bed! And just my style . . . . no doctors!

Just like those pesky germs, our character, who we are, is likely to be contagious. Contagious to those around us, and contagious to our kids.

Think about it, have you ever caught yourself mimicking things your parents said or did during your childhood? We all have.

Our character is contagious. And if we are living a life in obedience to Christ, our faith will be contagious as well.

We, as Christian parents, are the first step in the equation of our kids’ faith. Whether our kids develop a personal, and passionate faith, or a casual, watered down faith, depends a great deal on the faith and character of Mom and Dad.

We are told that if we live by the Spirit we will bear fruit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Galatians 5:22–23

If we long to reflect the image of Jesus in front of our kids, all of these characteristics should be our goal. However, there are three overarching themes in the character of Christ, under which everything else falls.

There are three characteristics of Christ that teenagers need to see in their parents to make following Him irresistible.

They must see . . .

1) Love

Kids must see their parents being people that love much. Love God, love their kids, and love others.

If someone asked you if you loved God, you would probably say, yes. We all would. But what does it really mean to love God? Love is not a feeling or a fact. As DC Talk sang back in the ‘90s, “Luv is a Verb.”

As disciples of Christ, we must actively, willfully, deliberately, intentionally, and fully love God and His Son, Jesus Christ above all else.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30-31

Michael Smalley posed this question during the sermon he gave at our church this Sunday. “What was Jesus’ love language?”

We all know the love languages from Gary Chapman’s 1995 book, The Five Love Languages.

  1. receiving gifts
  2. quality time
  3. words of affirmation
  4. acts of service
  5. physical touch

“What was Jesus’ love language?” I repeated in my head. I figured it was a trick question. All of them?

Michael went on to say that Jesus’ love language was obedience. Of course!

“If you love me, obey my commandments . . . Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.”  John 14:15,21

Our kids will see that we love Jesus if we are obeying his commands. It’s that simple.

Our kids will also see if we are a people who “love much” based on how we love them. We must be continually pouring love into them.

And, this one will seal the deal on what our kids think about us. Our kids must see us love others. Are we loving our neighbors? Are we loving difficult people? Are we loving our enemies?

2) Humility

The strongest defining characteristic of Jesus after love, was humility. No one has ever been higher or more worthy of praise that walked this earth than Jesus Christ. And no one has ever been more humble.

I have often thought that if I found out someday that Christianity wasn’t true, following Jesus would still have been the right way to live. Because of the call to humility.

When we put ourselves below others, they are lifted up. If we all lived like Jesus, we would be loving others and lifting each other up. Talk about an ideal society!

If you want your kids to have faith in Christ, there is nothing that can make Him more attractive than a display of humility in you.

3) Surrender

Many Christian kids growing up in the church never experience parents who surrender their lives to Christ. No wonder they are walking away.

If we don’t follow Christ with reckless abandon, then we might as well forget about passing on our faith at all. Why would we want to anyway? If we are not seeking to surrender our lives to Christ, then, He must not be that important to us. At least not important enough to do what He says.

If we want to show our kids a loving, good God, then we must surrender to Him first.

Love first, humility second, and surrender third. These are the ingredients that make our faith contagious.

It might be time to take inventory. As Christian parents, we must look in the mirror from time to time. Am I a loving person? Do I put other’s first? And, have I given everything I have and everything I am to God?

If you are brave enough, ask your kids what they see in you. You might be surprised by what they say.