Why I switched trees

About 9 years ago my wife and I had an encounter with some new information that caused us to really evaluate how we celebrate God. Those of you who have been reading my posts for a while already know the faith journey I’ve been on.

Almost a month or so ago, I was sitting in my living room. My children, wife and I had just wrapped up a night of reading scripture, singing praises, and talking about what it meant for Jesus to be the light of the world. It was so good. Messy. But so good. Anyone who has tried to have quality devotion time with three little kids knows it can be an adventure to say the least. But it was so nice none the less. And the other cool part was, we had done the same thing the previous seven nights. And on this night, my wife snapped a really cool photo.

I used to lay by the Christmas tree and play with the ornaments. I loved decorating it even as a child. But I always wondered what it had to do with Jesus. I still think the Christmas tree is beautiful. But when my wife and I discovered the origins and meaning of the first Christmas trees, we just couldn’t look at them the same. I understand that a lot of people discount the origins of many of the Christmas traditions because it doesn’t mean the same to them. And honestly, that’s up to them. I don’t want to point fingers or ridicule anyone, I just want to share my journey with you.

For my wife and I, the Christmas tree’s origins (use in pagan idol worship and Baal worship) and the simple fact that it’s meaning and relevance towards Jesus was completely absent. To make any connection whatsoever would really be a figment of our imaginations. But there is a tree, given by God, used to honor and celebrate Him.

When the tabernacle was being instructed, God ordained a very important piece in the Golden Lamp stand. It would serve as the light that illuminated the entire tent of meeting and guided the priests towards the holy of holies. It was the representation of God’s own light. It also holds the significance as being the illustration of the tree of life seen in the garden and later in the new heaven and Earth. Gathering around this tree is far more than about celebrating the miracle for the Maccabees that Hanukkah is generally associated with. It’s about honoring the miracles of God. It’s about recognizing that He first brought light into the void. It’s about celebrating the entrance of the light of life entering the world in the form of a baby. It’s about commemorating the relationship between Jesus being the light of the world and Him passing on the mantle to His followers to be the same. My wife and I would never be able to say the same about a Christmas tree. In fact, the only mention of setting up trees and decorating them in the Bible is the instructions not to do so (Jeremiah 10).

So when it came down to it. My wife and I chose to switch trees because one was empty in meaning (at best) and the other was splendid and a beautiful picture of who Jesus is. One had suspect origins and the other came directly from God. One looks an awful lot like something we’re instructed not to do, and the other appears all throughout scripture as a picture of life and light. One could be lined with material gifts for us while the other points us to the ultimate gift. Because, in the grand scheme of things, we want to honor Him and point our children towards Him. And that’s why we chose to switch trees.

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters!

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There should be no stress when celebrating Jesus

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Time and time again, I hear people talking about the stress of the Christmas season. I don’t understand. Aren’t we celebrating the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us in the person of Jesus? What is stressful about that? Could it be all the things that people do that have nothing to do with Jesus is what makes this time of year stressful? To keep our eyes of the Savior should alleviate all stress and anxiety. Celebrating the birth of the Messiah has nothing to do with black Friday deals, credit card debt, Santa Claus, putting up trees, and having the perfect party or family gathering with all the right food. If we would only give up the things that don’t celebrate Jesus, we would find so much freedom.

Worship the LORD with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy.

Psalm 100:2 NLT

The Gifts we Give

So much of this time of year is devoted to spending money on gifts for everyone. But how many people have stopped to think about why? Is it fun to give gifts? One hundred percent yes! It’s one of my favorite ways to show I care for someone. But why do people choose a celebration that is supposed to be about Jesus to make it about everyone else? Think about it. The average American will spend $700 on holiday gifts and goodies this year, totaling more than $465 billion. What?!?

Let’s not forget that it was Jesus who received gifts upon His birth. It wasn’t humanity, but the Savior of humanity that was honored. As we celebrate the birth of our Messiah, throughout this fall and winter season, let’s keep it about our Messiah. The last thing kids need is to be showered with presents. Materialism is an enemy of the soul. What our kids need is to love Jesus. What our family members need is to love Jesus. That’s the greatest gift. Think about what one person can do for the cause of Christ with $700 rather than buying stuff that has zero eternal significance. Or what one nation could do with a half a trillion dollars. Americans could provide clean drinking water to the entire world in one holiday season. Just one. We could provide a billion kids with a free education in impoverished nations. Those are causes worthy of honoring our Savior.

Celebrating the birth of Christ is celebrating the greatest gift, which has already been given. God became flesh and dwelt among us. We already received the gift. It’s our turn to give the gifts back to Him and to raise up our children to love and honor Him with their lives. I love giving things to my kids. I really do. And I’m not saying that kids shouldn’t get gifts. But why, for a celebration that is supposed to be all about Jesus, do we make it about anything other than Jesus? Let’s give the gifts of love, self-sacrifice, and service to those in need. Let’s devote our heart to Jesus as our gift to Him. He gave all of Himself to us. Now it’s our turn.

Peace in Christ, our Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, and Almighty God!

The Gifts we Give

So much of this time of year is devoted to spending money on gifts for everyone. But how many people have stopped to think about why? Is it fun to give gifts? One hundred percent yes! It’s one of my favorite ways to show I care for someone. But why do people choose a celebration that is supposed to be about Jesus to make it about everyone else? Think about it. The average American will spend $700 on holiday gifts and goodies this year, totaling more than $465 billion. What?!?

Let’s not forget that it was Jesus who received gifts upon His birth. It wasn’t humanity, but the Savior of humanity that was honored. As we celebrate the birth of our Messiah, throughout this fall and winter season, let’s keep it about our Messiah. The last thing kids need is to be showered with presents. Materialism is an enemy of the soul. What our kids need is to love Jesus. What our family members need is to love Jesus. That’s the greatest gift. Think about what one person can do for the cause of Christ with $700 rather than buying stuff that has zero eternal significance. Or what one nation could do with a half a trillion dollars. Americans could provide clean drinking water to the entire world in one holiday season. Just one. You could provide a billion kids with a free education in impoverished nations. Those are causes worthy of honoring our Savior.

Celebrating the birth of Christ is celebrating the greatest gift, which has already been given. God became flesh and dwelt among us. We already received the gift. It’s our turn to give the gifts back to Him and to raise up our children to love and honor Him with their lives. I love giving things to my kids. I really do. And I’m not saying that kids shouldn’t get gifts. But why, for a celebration that is supposed to be all about Jesus, do we make it about anything other than Jesus? Let’s give the gifts of love, self-sacrifice, and service to those in need. Let’s devote our heart to Jesus as our gift to Him. He gave all of Himself to us. Now it’s our turn.

Peace in Christ, our Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, and Almighty God!