Are you ready for Christmas? Is this too early for you; or are you one who gets ready for Christmas earlier, rather than later? No matter what the timing, we hope you try to cut down on the stress of preparing. That’s NOT what Christmas is all about. Decorating, preparing food and festivities, and buying gifts can be fun activities. But keep it all in perspective.
Here’s a good tip to keep in mind as you “get ready for Christmas”:
“What do you want and need to do between now and Christmas? Decide what has to be done and what you’d like to be done. And then see if it’s realistically going to fit into the days ahead. If it’s not going to fit, cut some thing(s) out and scheduled again. And then keep cutting till it all fits easily. The goal is to NOT be so busy and stressed you miss out on what’s important–God, family, and giving to others…” (Paul Byerly)
And then here’s a tip from Paul’s wife Lori:
“Most of us will be doing some decorating for the Christmas holidays. May I suggest a bit of restraint? Start with the simplest, most basic of decorations; and then add as you have the time and energy. If you don’t get everything set out, no harm done. Most importantly, decorate your face with a smile. Be warm and patient with your family.”
We hope this takes a bit of the pressure off your Christmas preparations. But…
It takes more than that to get ready for Christmas.
More importantly, we want to ask you: is your HEART ready for Christmas? When you get together with friends and relatives this Christmas season, will they see Christ in you?
Concerning this matter, we read something in Brant Hansen’s book, “Unoffendable” that has impacted us. We hope it will impact you too. And we hope it will challenge you.
“One evening, standing by the pond, a tipsy Finnish guy (he and his wife were drinking while moving out, tired of the inhospitable neighborhood) told me—I swear I’m not making this up—‘I’ve looked outside and seen your family. I’ve watched you. And when I see your family, I don’t even know why, but I think about God.’”
That’s really convicting, isn’t it? Do others think about God when they see how you interact with your spouse and family?
Again, is your heart ready for Christmas? Do you let the love of Christ shine in you and through you?
The Marriage Challenge
How about in your marriage? Does your spouse experience the love of Christ in the way you interact with him or her? And how about others? Will anyone see God, whose very name is LOVE working in and THROUGH your married lives?
Are you communicating the gospel with and without words? Keep in mind that your married lives are to be a testimony to draw others to Christ. Will they experience the grace of God while they’re with you? So:
“When you’re making Christmas plans, remember that your marriage is more important than all the fuss. Make sure you do things to make your marriage smoother, not to put bumps on the road. If that means doing Christmas smaller, do it. But keep the focus where it should be: that we have a loving God who left Paradise to live among us, so He could make a way for us to live forever with Him.” (Sheila Wray Gregoire)
In all our busyness, isn’t that really the bottom line? Isn’t Christmas much more than the wrappings, preparations, and trappings? Isn’t it about letting Jesus shine forth as we celebrate His birthday? And then what about throughout the year? Isn’t it about “living Christ” throughout the year so others will want to know our God better?
So, on this note, we came upon a poem written years ago by an unknown author, which we adapted for our Christmas Marriage Insight to you. We pray it will speak to your heart as it has ours.
Are You Ready for Christmas?
“Ready for Christmas!” she said with a sigh,
as she gave a last touch to the gifts piled high.
She wearily sat for a moment to read
till soon, very soon, she was nodding her head.
Then quickly spoke a voice in her dream,
“Ready for Christmas? What do you mean?
Ready for CHRIST, when only this week
not one nice thing to your spouse did you speak.”
“Ready for Christmas, while holding a grudge?
Why, how can the CHRIST CHILD come and abide
in a heart that is selfish and filled with pride?
Ready for Christmas, when only today
your spouse needed love and you turned him away—
without even a smile to show that you cared?
The little he asked —it could have been spared.
Ready for Christmas, your circle’s too small.
Why, you’re not ready for Christmas at all!”
She awoke with a start, and a cry of despair.
“There’s so little time I still have to prepare!
O FATHER, forgive me, I see what you mean.
To be ready means more than a house that’s swept clean.”
Yes, more than the giving of gifts and a tree,
it’s the heart swept clean that HE wants to see,
a heart that is free from bitterness and sin,
ready for Christmas—and ready for HIM!
Are You Truly Ready?
Truly think about whether you’re ready for Christmas. If you have bitterness and unforgiveness in your heart, you’re not ready for the Christ of Christmas. He wants to help you clean up that. If you have self-centeredness in your attitude, you aren’t ready for the Christ of Christmas. Again, He is ready to help you clean up that.
It tells us in the Bible that we’re to have the same attitude “as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross.“ (Philippians 2:5-8).
Do you have that same attitude?
If things become more important than people, you’re forgetting what Christ came on this earth to give to us. We’re to be using things and loving people —not the other way around.
We urge you to simplify your Christmas. The greatest gift you can give your spouse and everyone you’re with this Christmas (and throughout the year) is the gift of the Love of Christ.
We believe Jim Burns got it right when he said:
“I’ve declared this Christmas the ‘Christmas of my First Love’ where I’ll help my spouse and our family shift our focus from the mall to the manger. The manger is quiet and less crowded. It’s a place where children are always welcome. Spending time here will help our family to keep our eyes and hearts fully focused on Jesus.” (Jim Burns)
“Fully focused on Jesus!” That should be our focus, no doubt! There’s an internet site that we encourage you to visit and to tell your loved ones about if you or they don’t know Christ. It’s Needhim.org. It will help you to know the REAL reason for the season.
So, Are You TRULY Ready?
Being truly ready for Christmas comes down to something a Pastor Daniel Wright wrote in an article on this very matter (titled, “Ready for CHRISTmas?“). He couldn’t have summed it up any better!
“Christmas should be a joyous occasion spent with family and friends. But the true meaning of Christmas is about a baby born in a manger. The one who was called Emmanuel, which means God is with us.
“He came for a purpose! That purpose was to save and redeem us from our sins. John 3:16 says, ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.‘ (KJV)
“I [we] want to once again ask this question, are you ready for CHRISTmas? If you stood before Him today, would you be ready? Have you accepted him as Lord and savior? This is what Christmas is about. This is the only reason He came. Remember CHRISTmas is not about a gift under a tree, it’s about a gift that died on a tree!”
Please know our love and prayers are with you as together we work on our marriages so they will be a living testimony to the love of Christ all year long.
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:
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