Combat the Familiarity and Embrace the Wonder

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Four days into December, and I’m whipped. The combination of:

  • Allergies–come on Texas, get cold!
  • My company Christmas party
  • And a baby dedication for my niece–which was both sweet and fun!

All the above have left me drained. Add on the craziness that is the month of December at work, and I’m ready to crawl back into bed. I don’t know about you, but I find it easy to just hunker down and push through the holidays. At some point the:

  • Company Christmas cards will be finalized/stuffed/mailed.
  • Hustle and bustle of the season will end. Local drivers will return to their normal driving habits.

Do not misread me, I love Christmas. I enjoy spending time with family, the joy of giving gifts, and beginning new traditions with my own family. One of the traditions we have started, as a family, is going through season of Advent. Advent allows us to prepare our hearts and focus on the coming birth of Jesus.

In a culture that uses this season to get children to dream about how their lives would be made better by possessing a certain material thing, where Christmas has been reduced to a shopper’s nightmare and a retailer’s dream, it is vital to draw the wonder of our children away from the next great toy and toward the wonder of the coming of our great Lord and Savior, Jesus. – Paul David Tripp, Come Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional

This year, we are moving through the Advent season with two guides:

  1. In the evening as a family, we are walking through Focus on the Family’s Holy Night Advent Calendar. Each day, you read scripture and an overall thought. Then, you cut out an item (could be a palm tree, dove, etc.) and slowly build a paper craft manger scene.
  2. Tabitha and I are reading through Paul David Tripp’s Come Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional. This book has been excellent so far and I’m using it as a teaching resource for Sunday School.

Photo by Kacper Szczechla on Unsplash

The craziness of the holidays and being away from family in another state, for me, can distract from what I have in front of me and what the Christmas season is all about. By moving through Advent, I’m hoping to combat the familiarity and embrace the wonder of God sending His son, Jesus.

Familiarity tends to rob us of our wonder. And here’s what’s important about this: what has captured the wonder of our hearts will control the way we live. – Paul David Tripp, Come Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional

Q: What family Christmas traditions help you keep your focus on Christ during the Christmas season?

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The Powerful Sin of Unwillingness

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One of the dark character qualities of sin that we don’t recognize as much as we should is unwillingness. We’re often unwilling to do what God says if it doesn’t make sense to us. We’re often unwilling to inconvenience ourselves for the needs of someone else. We’re regularly unwilling to wait. We’re often unwilling to be open and honest. We’re too often unwilling to consider the loving rebuke of another. We struggle to be willing to say no to our own wrong thoughts and desires.

We often struggle to be willing to answer God’s ministry call. Often we are unwilling to admit that we are wrong. Too often we struggle to serve willingly and to give generously. Unwillingness is one of sin’s powerful damaging results. So here’s what the Christmas story is all about: a willing Savior is born to rescue unwilling people from themselves because there is no other way.

You see, it’s not just the Christmas story; rather, the entire redemptive story hinges on one thing—the eternal willingness of Jesus.

– Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional by Paul David Tripp

 

I had a difficult situation pop up last week where I had to confront someone. I was hurt and needed to clarify what had been communicated. The old me, the one who was raised with zero conflict resolution, wanted to be quiet.

I’ll just let the whole thing go, I thought to myself.

But I didn’t. I had the conversation that needed to be had. Everything worked out with the miscommunication clarified.

I realized though that I had been unwilling to engage God. Unwilling to allow Him to work through the situation. I think that we, as Christians, do this a lot:

  • We don’t communicate with God, when we sin, because we are unwilling to face the consequences OR even acknowledge something bigger going on inside of us.
  • We ignore God when we think that things will go differently/negatively so why pray?

Our unwilling nature deprives us in our faith walk. What God wants to use to strengthen our relationship with Him/our faith we instead put on the back burner of non-engagement. I know that we are called to more than this.

Let us be willing just as Christ was willing.

Surf Report – 10/24/2017

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Welcome to the Tuesday edition of the Surf Report.

.: God:

Imagine spending 40 days and 40 nights with God on Mount Sinai. Your people, whom you’ve led out of Egypt, have given up on you. They’ve decided to build their own god, a golden calf, with the help of your brother. God interrupts your meeting and tells you what the people are doing. They have violated His commandments.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’

“I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. 10a Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them.

God then says something that I’ve never noticed before. Notice the rest of verse 10:

10b Then I will make you into a great nation.”

Let’s pause for a moment. God has just said that He is going to destroy the Israelites and make Moses a great nation.

What would you do?

Would you want to be freed from a people who had made your life miserable? Would you tell God, sure, kill them, fulfill your promises in me?

OR

Would you make your case to God for your people?

You can pick up the story here (Exodus 32:11)

.: Life:

Over the weekend, Tabitha and I removed what was left of the handicap ramp off the front porch. I love how every small thing we do makes the house feel more and more like ours.

Photos courtesy of my wife.

.: Gaming:

Wyatt and I have been playing Little Big Planet 3.

Little Big Planet 3 demands that you bring your best platforming skills to the game. Anything less than your best will end in failure.

Wyatt and I played the above boss at least ten times. The first night we got stuck on the boss, we were both tired. Thankfully, I decided to quit that night. Wyatt wasn’t happy about that decision. However, we were able to beat the boss in a quick and efficient manner the next day. Sometimes you gotta know when to quit.

That is it for this weeks Surf Report. Make sure to comment below and have a good week!

From Across the Net – “Owlboy: A Reflection on Friendship

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Over at Gamechurch, M. Joshua Cauller writes about friendship in Owlboy. I really liked this:

“The constant teleporting-in occurs thanks to your magical device, but the shock of being instantly teleported into a violent scenario takes trust. You see that trust grow…”

You can read more here

Can you imagine the trust it would take for you to allow yourself to be instantly transported anywhere? Knowing that each time you were transported, you’d be thrust into a dangerous situation? Talk about loving someone enough to die for them.

How many kids do you have?

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Walking from small group to the worship service on Sunday, I bumped into a fellow church member. We somehow got onto the topic of kids.
 
“So how many kids do you have?”
 
“One.”
 
“One for now, huh?”
 
“Yeah. One for now. We’ve been trying for the past five years though.”
 
“Well, you could have a surprise later in life, like your mother and father-in-law did.”
 
I am learning to be honest during simple conversations like these. Not to garner sympathy or even empathy but in an attempt to talk about the path God has my wife and I on. 
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The feelings that infertility brings out feel selfish at times. Even gross. I’m learning to communicate those thoughts and feelings out loud. Even if only with my wife.
 
Staying silent is frustrating.
 
Staying silent kills.

In the hard moments

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My chest hurts today. I’m not sure why. All I know is that it feels like someone is sitting on me. Someone large; Someone heavy.

I read this morning that:

God is working right now, but not so much to give us predictable, comfortable, and pleasurable lives. He isn’t so much working to transform our circumstances as he is working through hard circumstances to transform you and me. Perhaps in hard moments, when we are tempted to wonder where God’s grace is, it is grace that we are getting, but not grace in the form of a soft pillow or a cool drink. Rather, in those moments, we are being blessed with the heart-transforming grace of difficulty because the God who loves us knows that this is exactly the grace that we need.

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God knows what I need. Even if it’s not the cool drink of peace that I desire.