Tag Archives: Advent

Are You Really Keeping Christ in Christmas?


Christ in Consumer Christmas

Every year we see the Facebook posts, news articles, and hear sermons about the need to ‘Keep Christ in Christmas’; this has always bothered me. I’ve never been concerned about keeping Christ in Christmas because I personally don’t believe Christ cares to have his name associated with a consumer driven holiday.

I truly believe that Christ doesn’t want people exchanging gifts in his name that were made under unsafe conditions in sweat shops across Asia. Do you honestly believe God wants people fighting each other on Black Friday so they can get the best deals on the gifts they’ll be giving for Christmas? Would Jesus be excited to see underpaid and overworked cashiers and sales associates putting up with miserable shoppers for a month, all in the name of celebrating his birthday?

I often wonder why Christians go through so much effort to keep Christ’s name in something that he never celebrated; a time of remembrance that he never asked us to keep. Before departing, Jesus gave a set of instructions to his followers and not a single one of them mentioned celebrating his birth. Instead, what Jesus wanted us to do was live out the loving commandments of God. Jesus asked us to remember all that he did during his short time on earth so that we could go forward and do the same. Nowhere in scripture does Jesus engage in anything that remotely resembles our North American Christmas holiday.

holiday stress

If you would like to keep Christ in Christmas, here are a few ideas:

Be nice to the underpaid and unappreciated cashiers and sales staff. These workers are not here to be yelled at, complained about, or mistreated in any way. Remembering the fruits of the Spirit during the holiday shopping season is important, this is how we live in the Spirit of Christ.

Spend only what you can afford. If you don’t have the money to pay for items before the interest rate is added to your credit card bill, then you can’t afford the gift. Put it back. Don’t purchase it. Consumer debt is not how Christ wants us to live. If we can’t afford something, then why are we purchasing it? Wanting unnecessary material goods, buying them, ad then being in credit card debt for these items we can’t afford is called gluttony and pride.  Money mismanagement is not keeping with God’s commandments and the values Jesus taught us.

Practice advent. It never ceases to surprise me how many Christians don’t celebrate advent. As a religious culture we are beyond excited to spend much energy on a one day celebration, but somehow we can’t find the time to spend several weeks focusing on why Christ came into this world and what it all means for us as followers today. Taking time each day during Advent to focus on the great gift of Jesus means never having to remind yourself to keep Christ in Christmas, because Advent is all about Jesus and our relationship with him.

Remember those who are having a Blue Christmas. The holidays can be emotionally painful for those who have experienced loss during the year, people who are having painful memories, and those who have no family to celebrate with. You don’t have to be extravagant in reaching out to them, it can be as simple as giving them a box of chocolates, an encouraging Christmas card or something that you notice they might be in need of. Knowing that you are remembered, loved, and cherished during the holidays means so much to those having a Blue Christmas.

Remember those around the world who live in areas where they cannot openly celebrate the birth of Jesus. For Christians whose lives are in danger due to their religious beliefs, they don’t have the option of trying to figure out how to keep Christ in consumer Christmas; their lives are in immediate danger. Take time to remember those who do not know the love of Christ or why God is so amazing. Review the story of Jesus’ birth and the danger that his family was in. Thousands of years later there are still leaders and rulers who fear the love and peace that Christ came to live and proclaim.

Hopefully all of this doesn’t come across as me putting the bitter in Christmas because the truth is, I love the Christmas season for reasons that aren’t really Christ focused. The holidays make me happy because I love the festivities, the beautiful lights that brighten my dark and cold city, and all the other fun stuff that make great memories. My only concern is for Christians who find it necessary to “Keep Christ in Christmas”. There is no battle. If you are a believer, Christ will be part of Christmas and you won’t get lost in the secular. Christ is meant to be in your life and in your home year round. If you make Christ a regular part of your life, you won’t have to fight to keep him there every December.

Christmas year round

We Need More Than Jesus


Take the World

I love the classic Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell song, “You’re All I Need To Get By”, it’s a song that speaks of a couples dedication and need for each other. Ashford and Simpson were talented writers, but as beautiful as this song is, I would hate for someone to think that I was the only thing they needed to get by in life; frankly that’s too much pressure. I don’t need someone depending on me emotionally for survival, no thanks!

I often hear people saying that all they need is Jesus, “Just give me Jesus”, “Jesus is all that I need” and other phrases of that sort. I’ve also read clichés and comments like these in one too many books. Christians tend to get all bent out of shape when I tell them that I need more than just Jesus. If you’re wondering what I would need more than Jesus here is my list:

  • Oxygen
  • Water
  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Sleep

Jesus is an important part of our spiritual lives as believers, but we need more than him in order to meet our most basic essentials for survival. Jesus never said that he was taking the place of what human beings need in order to survive on earth.

Give Me Jesus

It’s easy to misread the gospels and incorrectly assume that Jesus wants us to believe that we don’t need the essentials of life when we have him in our lives, but he never alluded to that. What Jesus did tell us, was that we are not to worry about obtaining our daily needs. Worry never leads to anything good. Worry leads to heart attacks, increased risks of stroke, stomach ulcers, muscle tensions leading to headaches and, various aches and pains.

Matthew 6: 27-34 is where Jesus tells us not worry because God will provide for us and a reminder that worry doesn’t add any years to our lives. While worry doesn’t solve our problems, we can’t ignore them by assuming that God will provide our basic needs. The fact is, millions of people have died from starvation, the elements, and from not being able to breathe. Doing what needs to be done on a daily basis in order to meet our basic needs for living is not a sign of worry or a lack of faith in God.

We are fortunate to live in North America where no child will have to die of starvation or malnourishment. Even the poorest person in the city can find an abandoned building or create makeshift shelter somewhere in the city. For those on the other side of the world it is not so easy for them to be told that they don’t need anything except Jesus to survive, because the falsehood of such a statement is real to them.

In Christ

What I take from Jesus’ statement about worrying is that it is useless. He knows that worrying isn’t going to make a difference and he wants his followers to be aware of this. He wants his followers to turn from the wastefulness of worrying and instead, take that energy and focus on giving God our concerns and fears. By handing over our worries to God we able to focus more on finding a solution. Worrying doesn’t allow us to be calm enough to think clearly. The sad truth is that despite praying to God, despite trusting him to take care of our human needs, there is no guarantee that these essentials will be met and the worst that could happen, that being death, might actually happen.

Our worship of God is filled with paradoxes, things that might seem contradictory, and lots of asking ‘why God why’; but with each new day we have to continue to trust and have faith in God, allow the confusion, and accept the unknown. I don’t know what the answer is to ending war, world hunger, and injustice, and why God allows these to continue to happen, but I do know this; we need more than Jesus.

If the spirit of Christ is within us, we will see those around us who are in need, and in whatever way we can, we will help others. And for those who lack the essentials in life, we will continue to trust that God is good even when our basic needs are not met. Matthew 11: 28-30

He Gives Us Rest


Do you believe that Jesus is all that we need to survive? If not, what would be on your list of things that we need other than Jesus for survival?

How do you answer those who ask why God “allows” people to die at the hands of war, die of starvation, or other atrocities?


Read or watch the news this week, make note of when famine, starvation, lack of clean water, and war is mentioned. Take time to pray for their essential needs to be met.

During your time of prayer remember to bless the LORD for all the essentials for living that you have.

Advent: C is for Christ, not Chocolate!

Sugar Free Advent Calendar

Advent 2014 is fast approaching. This year the season is from November 30, 2014 – December 24, 2014. Traditionally Advent is a season where we focus on the second coming of Christ. His first arrival was his birth, the second arrival is when he returns to earth again. We don’t know when he will return and when asked by his disciples, he told them he did not know either, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Matthew 24:36, NIV.

Jesus left his disciples with a variety of teachings on how to live in his absence. He did his best to warn and inform the disciples of what to expect as believers and followers of his teachings. Jesus knew that faith in him and our heavenly Father would not lead to an easy life (Luke 14: 28-30). The written word tells us that we are to watch as we do not know when he will return (Matthew 24:42). The when and the how of Jesus’ return is not the main focus of our faith; what is important is how we wait. Being a believer and a follower of Christ means our waiting is active instead of passive. There is no star gazing and dreaming, it’s all about action; believing, praying, and doing, just as it was when Jesus was on earth.

What I noticed was missing from bible topics relating to Christ’s return is the word chocolate.

Maybe I’m reading a bad bible translation, just kidding! All I know is that eating chocolate everyday as a way to celebrate advent, might sound fun, but it is disrespectful to the seriousness of both the first and second advent. I’m not against chocolate, heaven knows it is one of my favourite indulgences, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for celebrating advent. If you want to enjoy chocolate every single day while counting the days until Christmas, why not call it a Christmas countdown or a name that more accurately reflects why you’re eating chocolate every single day.

Whisky Advent Calendar
Need some liquid courage while waiting for Jesus’ return?

I encourage families to find different, more respectful ways to celebrate advent. There are many ideas and suggestions on the internet, and in books to help stir up some creativity; but whatever you choose to do, I hope that it is honouring to Christ and our Father in heaven. I don’t want to take the fun out of the holiday season, but Advent was never meant to be a time of indulgence and merry making, which is what Christmas Day and the subsequent 12 days of Christmas is for.

This year I will be able to light my advent candles on a daily basis where I will focus on a short verse and devotional reading about the work and teachings of Jesus and the Old Testament words of God’s promises to us. I treasure this time as a way of ending the calendar year and beginning the liturgical year focused on the divine. In the years past it has helped me to have a more peaceful holiday season rather than one filled with busyness and the pressures caused by retail consumerism.  I keep advent simple, adding extra tasks and large amounts of readings doesn’t draw me closer to God, it only leaves me feeling overwhelmed and time challenged.

Advent we are waiting
Source: showmejesus.com


QUESTION: How do you normally participate in the Advent season? Is it focused on God’s word and the second coming of Christ? Do you prefer to keep it fun and secular based instead of religious? Do you combine both?

ACTION: If you choose to keep the Advent season religious, prayerfully ask God what you and your family can be doing this season to remain focused on the true meaning of Advent.



2nd Day of Christmas


I had to laugh when I saw this jpg on google. December 26th, has never been quite like that, at least not around here. December 26th is a hectic day, it’s Boxing Day!

boxing day

Some people  retailers just can’t get enough, so it’s now commonly referred to as Boxing Week! We need this holiday in case we didn’t purchase enough items before December 24th.

Christmas isn’t over yet, it is only the second day of Christmas, and if you haven’t recieved a pair of turtle doves, don’t worry. The turtle dove population has apparently decreased and they spend their winters in southern Africa, so please be forgiving towards your true love if you don’t recieve a pair this year, maybe he or she will be more responsible and plan ahead for Christmas 2014.

2 turtle doves

I was secretly relieved that the commercial part of Christmas was over. It was an exhausting month which involved working Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and today, Boxing Day. I spent these three days focusing more on getting through my shifts rather than focusing on the symbolic arrival of our Lord and Saviour. I was feeling extremely guilty about not having made enough time for God during these holy days. I fell asleep in bed with my advent devotional clenched in my hands.

I woke up the next morning feeling angry with myself, how is it possible to not have time during Christmas Eve to squeeze in a service (I went to sleep instead) or worship him on Christmas Day (I worked a 12 hour shift, came home and fell asleep again). As I was busy worrying and internally freaking out, I suddenly felt a sense of peace come over me. I can’t say for sure it was the Holy Spirit or just me convincing myself, but I realized that God doesn’t work around liturgical calendars and man made holidays.

God is our same loving, caring, forgiving and attentively listening God all year round. He doesn’t have 24 hours in a day or 7 days in a week. The calendar was invented for us to be able to keep ourselves organized. Our Holy Days are designed to prevent us from forgetting all that we know about God; a way to remember all He has done and will continue to do.

We worship a God who is nothing like we are; He doesn’t need a liturgical calendar to remember us. Nothing distracts Him from His ultimate pleasure of caring for us and being in communion with his creation. He doesn’t have certain times of year where He pays more attention to us and then puts us on the back burner until the next liturgical cultural quasi-religious holiday.

If you didn’t quite make it through all of Advent, that’s o.k. If you didn’t make it to church on Christmas Eve, that’s o.k. as well. If your turkey turned out dry and your mashed potatoes were lumpy, that’s all right with God. Our Father doesn’t want our holiday worship, He wants our everyday worship; the love, attention and worship that we offer on a daily basis.

If you weren’t attentive to your holiday observances this season, there is still the rest of the year for continued worship. As we make our way through the next 10 days of Christmas, I pray that you also will feel a sense of peace in knowing that God is always with us, loving on us and never keeping score. Praise be to God!