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Posts Tagged ‘spirituality’

“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.” James 1:16-18 (NIV)

Every year at this time, my parents would encourage us children to write a “wish list” for Christmas. Of course, my brothers and I would be as extensive as we could, including all the newest toys and videos games recently released to the stores. We would traverse through the Sunday newspaper ads, letting our minds and imaginations run wild with the endless possibilities Christmas morning could bring. Rarely would we include the practical, like new underwear or socks. But sure enough, every year, under the colorful lights of our Christmas tree, we would find a year’s supply of new socks, underwear, and church clothes. Occasionally, there would be a handcrafted garment from a dearly loved and seasoned member of the family. As we were gently prodded to try on the garment, our faces would translate the message of gratitude while inside we wondered, “Where are the better gifts?”

As a child, I never saw the practical gift as the “better” gift. They were rarely fun, seldom unique, and certainly never exciting. When I thought of practical gifts I typically drew one of two conclusions; 1. The person who gave the gift failed to take my wants and desires into consideration, or 2. The person who gave the gift simply didn’t care about me. I wasn’t important. What I wanted didn’t matter. I was destined to receive socks and underwear no matter what my heart desired.

As a child, my heart was bound and determined to be selfish. I was concerned only with my desires, and focused on what I wanted. My heart was fixated only on me. My attitude conveyed, “It’s all about me” and in turn, I became the one who cared little about anyone else.

Truth is many of us have trouble leaving the selfish heart of a child behind when it comes to exploring the bounty God has blessed us with. We look for the bigger, the better, the shinier whatchamacallit when God is blessing us with the very best He has. James 1:16, 17 says, “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above…” Every good gift [our family, friends, home, job, food on the table, transportation, the breath we take, another day of life, or fill in your own blanks] comes from God. We don’t do anything to earn it. He gives to us because He is our loving and caring Heavenly Father. Every perfect gift [His love, mercy, grace, faithfulness, joy, peace, and the list keeps going on] comes from Him too. We don’t deserve what He gives us, yet he gives to us in abundance.

Here comes the reality; God gives us good and perfect gifts so we will replicate his actions. James 1:18 continues, “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.” Giving us good and perfect gifts wasn’t to perpetuate a selfish, childish heart, but to develop a heart after His own.

This Christmas season, as you put up the Christmas tree, hang the stockings, and sip on the eggnog; consider the reality of the practical gifts God has given you. Examine your heart and ask yourself “Is my life all about me or am I a first fruit of God’s family, mimicking the master’s heart?” Which will you choose this Christmas? God Bless you and your family in the year to come.

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Being a Parent is a blessing. As Charissa grows, she is starting to make sounds resembling words. As a proud daddy, I am pleased to say her first word was “dada”. MaryEllen says she only said that word first because of my constant teasing. Either way, I can celebrate her achievement. But it’s been a long time since Charissa called out to me in her sweet, tender voice. Instead of saying “dada” she’s moved onto other words like “mama” and “brabra”. She is growing up so quickly.

A few days ago, I had a tender moment with my daughter. As MaryEllen was getting ready for the day, I knelt next to the bed, looking fondly on Charissa. In the midst of her playing, she looked up at me and with a smile on her face she spoke softly but purposefully my name, “Dada”. My heart softened and a huge smile crossed my face. I was thankful my daughter recognized my face and enjoyed my presence. I relished her calling out to me, not in a moment of pain, fear, or demand, but in a moment of love, pleasure, and appreciation.

As I treasured this tender moment, I wondered how God feels when we call out to Him; not in a moment of pain, fear, or demand, but in a moment of love, pleasure, and appreciation for who he is. We reflect on the Awesomeness and Majesty of God. We appreciate the Power and Might of our Lord. But how often do we focus on the tender thought that God is our Father? “God sent him [Jesus] to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.  And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”  Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.” (Galatians 4:5-7 NLT)

God hears us no matter how we call out to Him. When we cry out in our pain, fear, or demand we can rest assured that our cries will reach his ears. But have you considered the tender moments; the moments where we simply express our love, pleasure and appreciation for who God is to us? Have you considered the times where you simply call out his name because you rejoice in being his son or daughter? When was the last time you stopped for a moment and gave God the gift of your time and appreciation for adopting you into his family and calling you one of His own? If it’s been a while, why not take some time now? Take a minute, clear your heart and mind and call out to your Heavenly Father, not in a minute of distress, but in a tender moment He’d treasure.

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