Sunday, December 21, 2008

Contented Christmas

Here in the northwest, we're experiencing one of the most severe winter weather systems ever. Today, we have much snow and frigid temps as we face the wedding of a dear friend. We hope many will struggle through the snow to celebrate with her. But considering Puyallup has no snowplows and relies entirely on sand to keep the roads clear, I have my doubts. We'll see though.

Today, I want to just make a few notes on contentedness. After all, Christmas is the time to be driven by dissatisfaction. We women want to provide our families the perfect decorations, the perfect food, the perfect gifts, the perfect parties. And sometimes, when we are thwarted, whether by weather or finances, children or time, we end up with a kind of miserable lump in our gut. A sorrow in our memory. It is born with dissatisfaction.

And Proverbs has the answer: Contentedness.

Check out these good words:

Those who love money will never have enough.
Riches are hoarded to harm the saver. (Prov. 5:13)
It is good to eat well, drink good wine, and enjoy your work. (3:18)
Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don't have (6:19)
He might live a thousand years twice but never have contentment. (6:6)

So, how do you stay contented? Cultivate thankfulness! Remember those who have much less. GIVE to the poor. Pray for those who struggle. Live in the NOW (don't let your mind wander; when you are with your kids concentrate on savoring the moment) Try to avoid or restrict list-making (YES! list-making generates pressure for all the undone things. If you struggle with contentedness, consider what that long list of "to-dos" does to your psyche!) Tell those you love how much they mean to you. Mute or turn off the commercials. Focus on simplifying.

In a season where everything around you is geared to MAKE you dissatisfied, ask God to plant in you a deep sense of contentedness. It's the treatment for what ails us.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Faith Enables

So, I was reading the dreaded Hebrews passage the other day. You know the one, chapter eleven, the faith passage. Most of the time, that kind of reading can make you feel a little like a "faith weany." Yes?

And (remember that I'm using this new interactive attempt at quiet time),  I noticed this important pattern. In every place where faith is mentioned, it is followed by a VERB. A DOING word. 

By faith, Abel Obeyed.
By faith Enoch pleased God
By faith Noah (built an ark)
Sarah conceived
Abe offered Isaac
Isaac blessed his sons
Joseph spoke (of the future)
Moses parents (hid the baby)
Moses left Egypt.

See the pattern? While faith isn't an action word. It is the MEANS to action. It is NOT the means to passivity. 

Faith and action. Go together. Action happens BY FAITH.

James said something about faith and action, didn't he? You show me your faith and I'll show you my action. (Bette's paraphrase)

I got to wondering what that means. How does faith produce action? If faith comes from God, and action is our part of it, then, is faith our response to God? Our responsive response to God? Our active response to God in our life?

So, I guess I have to ask. What has faith made you do lately?

Good question, eh?

It's almost the Christmas season. I'm taking my laptop to the Mac doctor tomorrow. So, don't know when I'll get it back. In the meantime, I'm wishing you a wonderful holiday season.

Turns out that I finished the novel and turned it in last Friday night. Yahoo! And, the fire investigator who looked at the story says he is extremely impressed with the "page turner" and can't wait to read the whole manuscript. So, that's a good sign. Should be out this summer. I'll keep you posted. Blessings, one and all. And remember the One we celebrate.