I prefer the anticipation to the aftermath. I wish it weren't so. I love the lights, the smells, the baking, gifts piled under the tree, shopping, wrapping (well, not so much the wrapping), watching the golden heads make gifts... And somehow when that's over; I feel let down. It's not as satisfying as I anticipated. And my middle aches. It's as if Christmas falls short, but I'm supposed to be celebrating the fulfillment of prophecy that my perfect, God Savior came down from heaven and became a baby boy: one significant step in the plan to save me. I'm not even sure what the lights, gifts, goodies and wrapping (wrapping for sure) have to do with any of that. Yes, we Christians come up with all sorts of justifications. The lights represent the star in the sky… The gifts remind us of the three wise mens' gifts…. Goodies represent the spices the kings brought… (There's no justification for the wrapping.)

Over and over, my expectations fail to satisfy: birthday gifts, desserts, dates, words of affirmation, acts of service, back rubs. I always think it sounds so thrilling and "perfect," but then it comes to pass and it doesn't quite meet the mark.

Thankfully, Christ will be the one thing that doesn't fall short! When I read Isaiah's prophecy in Chapter 6 and John's multiple descriptions of worshiping the Lamb in Revelation, there's no reason to think that worship left a void in ANYONE! Not in Isaiah, not in the elders, not in the angels or John. And when I worship, it satisfies.

There's a lesson in this. When the lights twinkle, presents are opened, family surrounded and goodies abound, I need to be focused on Christ, to be worshiping Him in that moment. Worship is 24•7 lifestyle: constant communing with God, ascribing to Him the glory He deserves.

At the end of the famous love chapter (1 Corinthians 13), Paul writes of the greatest virtues: faith, hope and love. And he notes that the greatest is love. Christ is love. When we meet Jesus face to face, both faith and hope will be realized and not necessary any longer. I hope for a great Christmas experience, I have faith in my family to make it a great experience, but experiencing Christ, worshiping Christ, is to experience love that never ends!
Though the presents not be received with excitement,
and the cinnamon rolls are gone,
and the mittens I bought are too small,
and the leftovers are gone,
and my family is driving me crazy
and I long for solitude,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
I will worship God, the Lord is my strength;
He satisfies my Christmas;
He lets me experience Him and surrounds me with His presence.
Habakuk 3:17-18 (Christmas paraphrase)
Until I meet Him on the day faith and hope are realized, I will wait with patience (Romans 8:25). I will worship Him, especially at Christmas. Now, if I would only remember not to forget.

 Will you join me in worshiping Him, the only one who satisfies this Christmas? Not gifts, not family, not goodies that fall short, but completely full of Him!


I didn't want to make the call. I just want to spend my day not working. I called her anyway, out of duty and discipline. Our conversation lifted my spirits, reminded me of tangible gifts, humbled me in leadership and reminded me of my calling.

I didn't want to run. Discipline sent me lacing my shoes and bundling up. It turned out to be a perfect pre-dawn run: 19 degrees, no wind and Christmas lights. The endorphins kicking in feel fantastic and the coffee dripping smells inviting.

Tempting to not clean the bathroom. After all, it's not that bad. Likely, if I skip it, an emergency will come up next week on bathroom cleaning day and it won't get cleaned that week either (….gross!) Maintaining in discipline gives a sense of accomplishment and wise stewardship.

The more I contemplate, the more I understand that there are gifts of joy and blessing lurking behind self-discipline. Sometimes you choose to begin the task out of duty or mere discipline but then the gift follows.

After rebuilding Jerusalem's wall, Nehemiah chapter 8 describes the Jewish exiles that have returned to Jerusalem, are counted, read and taught the law which brings them to tears. But Nehemiah and the Levite priests commands them to celebrate the holy day of the Lord; "And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength," (verse 10). The Jews left the assembly  to eat, drink, share with others and "make great rejoicing." I have a hard time picturing a grieving person feeling like eating, drinking and rejoicing. They were moved to grief, tears, and weeping. Out of obedience and self-discipline, the Jews chose to celebrate. Initially, it likely felt heavy-hearted and obligatory. But their actions started rejoicing, and their hearts followed that choice.

Time in God's Word? Oh, I'll do it after I go grocery shopping, vacuum the floors and make the girls' after school treat. Ahg, by 4pm, my Bible and journal haven't budged. I feel the ache in my heart, the lack of power because I haven't plugged into the power source. Choice out of discipline is hard, but I have experienced over and over the gift that follows the choice.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11

What choice do you need to make today out of discipline? Watch the joy of the Lord unfold as you discipline yourself.


In my hiker opinion, there's a difference between just strolling along a path you see from the highway and getting out the map, consciously choosing a destination and then planning the trail route. In both instances, you might see some pretty neat things, but likely the routed path will yield more spectacular views. But the extra work of planning the excursion is a choice.
Rewind four-thousand years to Moses leading Israel through the desert recorded in Deuteronomy 30.
15 “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. 16 For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.17 “But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods,18 then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live a long, good life in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy.19 “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! 20 You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
Israel had a choice on the quality of their life. It was irrevocable that they were a people chosen and called by God (Deuteronomy 7:6-9) and they were undoubtedly in His flock, but the quality of their life was determined by their choice: life and prosperity or death and disaster.
We have the same choice. When we choose to believe in the work of Jesus paying the penalty of my sin on the cross, we are choosing to accept eternal life and enter into His flock. After that initial choice, comes the daily choice: to love my LORD, follow His ways in all I think, say and do, and hold fast to Him (verse 20).
This is the key to living a full, meaningful, rich life because He is my life. After our initial choice to accept eternal life, our old life is buried, dead and gone (Galatians 2:20). He is my length of days. The quality of my today depends on my choice to love, follow and hold onto Jesus. This is the difference between living a ho-hum life as a believer (a pitiful existence) and living with purpose and joy. Some people say choose your attitude, I say choose LIFE!
Deliberately choose a trail on the map, don't just mosey on down whatever path is laid before you because that path will not be satisfying! To not consciously choose is to choose the unsatifsying life.
Every day when you come before God, picture Him like Moses before Israel, asking you, "Will you choose good or evil?" And just like Moses pleaded with Israel, He pleads with you to choose life.
Will you consciously choose life today: to love God, follow His ways and hold onto Him as your surety?