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I don’t want you to panic but I really need to tell you something, brace yourself….there are only 5 days left until Christmas (insert scream here)! Granted, maybe you are one of the elite few who had all of their shopping done by July but for the vast majority of us the season of Christmas can be an extremely stressful and anger inducing time. Some of the most flagrant disrespects of humanity happen during Christmas shopping. I’ve seen two grown women have a fistfight in the Disney store fighting over that one last toy, people have been trampled to death because of a “super sale” and people in general are rude, crude and only thinking about their well-being and survival. How did it go so wrong? How did the meaning of Christmas get lost in the lines at the mall waiting to see Santa? Perhaps we’ve never truly understood what Christmas meant in the first place.

I’m sure you’ve heard the catchy phrase before, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.” Well that’s true but not complete. Even in Christian circles Christmas has become a commercialized and marketed product similar to a soup line; feeding the masses but nourishing no one. I don’t know how many Christian people have told me that they hate the Christmas season! Really?! How can anyone hate Christmas?

It’s time to take Christmas back. Amidst the hub-bub and bustle, the long lines and frustrating return policies the meaning of Christmas must be redeemed. Christmas is the season of life, it is the time of year that we remember that it is because of a little baby that we have life. God himself looked upon his most cherished creation (humanity) and decided to step off of his throne of glory and splendor to come to earth and be born a helpless little baby. He went from the greatest of strengths to the weakest of all, because he loved you and I more than he loved himself. Let me repeat that, God loves us more than himself and he showed us this in the manger as a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths. As the baby Jesus laid there sleeping those who came to worship realized that this new life would bring forth new life to all men.

So the next time you are standing in a long line, being irritated by a cashier or buying a gift for someone you hardly know remember this; You have been given the gift of life, you didn’t deserve it nor could you ever obtain it on your own, yet God came to earth in a manger, as a baby so that we could have life, life eternal. You know what…this IS the most wonderful time of the year.

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Recently, God has been working in my life or should I say shaping my life. I’ve come to realize that during this time the analogy God uses in the Bible about being clay in His hands has become more a reality than a good word picture.

Here is the beautiful thing about clay, if you keep it moist and supple it can be continuously molded and shaped. As the potter turns the wheel and skillfully runs his hands over the wet clay the impurities can be rooted out and the smooth clay begins to take its beautiful form. Should a new impurity form, it can be dealt with and removed. The clay itself can be flattened and in just a few moments be reshaped into the form the potter desires. All of this is only possible while the clay is moist and supple in the hands of the Potter.

Now if clay does not stay moist and supple it begins to become hard and brittle. Once the clay becomes hard it is no longer good for shaping, the clay will retain the shape that it remains in. At this point there is only one recourse for the clay…to be broken.

God works the molding of our lives the same way. Many times when we are going through a struggle in our lives God is shaping us for the beautiful form he has in mind for us. The key is to stay moist and supple in the hands of the Potter and trust that His design is perfect, His skill is beyond compare and His love for His creation is beyond understanding. If we reject God’s shaping the wheel stops and we slowly grow hard and brittle, no longer being useful to pour water on us for the shape has been set. The only way we can be shaped at this point is to be broken and for Potter to begin again.

We’ve all been broken, we cannot be fixed until we are. Stay supple in the hands of the Potter and trust that He is shaping you for His perfect purpose.

Summer is in full swing; people are barbecuing, kids are out of school, the temperature is always HOT and life tends to lounge around like a sunbather by the pool. Today is the day that America celebrates it’s independence, the 4th of July, and its a day that encapsulates the feeling of summer. Cook-outs, swimming pools and fireworks round out the perfect summer day. For many summer is the greatest 3 months of the year, the fun never stops and life is carefree…but herein lurks a disturbing problem.

Spiritually speaking, summer is the darkest time of the year. Our focus turns inward; how can I have fun, where can I go on vacation and how can I delay responsibility for another day, week or month. And while fun activities and vacations are important for any person or family we neglect one very important fact, the Devil doesn’t go on vacation and evil never takes a break! Yet, ask any pastor in America and they will tell you that church attendance plummets during the summer. A friend of mine who is a youth pastor told me that he has to cancel all youth programs during the summer because only a handful of kids would show up and that’s from a church with a large youth ministry! I know people who don’t set foot in church between Memorial day and Labor day and for no other reason than it’s “Summer.” And this goes deeper than simple church attendance, people stop fellowshipping, they stop reading their Bible and most importantly they completely lose focus on their relationship with God. Spiritually, the summer is a dark place and we are deceived to believe otherwise.

How then, can we bring “light” back into our summer?  The first step is to remember to keep your focus on God, keep your relationship with Him strong and vibrant through prayer, fellowship and service. The next step is by opening your Bible and reading it!! Engage Scripture daily with a time of devotion and meditation. And the third and final step is to make yourself a plan! Plan what parts of Scripture you will read, study something that you never have before and make a list of books that will take your walk with God to the next level. Taking the time to cultivate your relationship with God now during the summer will pay huge dividends for you through the rest of the year. Your spirit, life and walk will be filled with light, not darkness.

Oh, and one last thing…go to church during the summer, they’re open, I promise!

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