Monday Musings: the greatest gift you can give this Christmas season

Tis the season.

Christmas is now less than three weeks away, and I think we could all use a little holiday cheer.

As many of our work parties, family gatherings, and other Christmas traditions are being impacted by the spread of the coronavirus, we all need to double-down on giving the greatest gift we can give to each other and to the world.


But, not just any kind of love.

Love is such a misunderstood concept in our culture today. Just like everything else in the world, it has been corrupted by sin.

Love is love…or at least that’s what people believe these days.

But, at the core of that belief is a very narcissistic view of life. Basically, love is whatever we want it to be as long as it makes us feel good.

Love is love is love of self.

And, that is definitely not the kind of love this world needs right now.

What this world needs is the kind of love that will last forever.

A love that is patient and kind…especially with those who think differently than we do, and who we disagree with.

A love that is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude…especially when we share our thoughts and opinions on social media.

A love that does not demand its own way…especially when decisions are made that we don’t like or think are unreasonable.

A love that is not irritable and keeps no record of being wronged…especially when we are at home with the people we love the most.

A love that does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out…especially when we have the opportunity to point people to Jesus, who experienced the ultimate form of injustice for us because He loved us more than He loved Himself.

A love that never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance…

This is the kind of love that the world needs right now.

This is the gift that we all need.

May we be a people who love well this Christmas season, and give the greatest gift that we possibly can to a world that desperately needs it.

“Three things will last forever-faith, hope, and love-and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Advent Musings: how will you react to Jesus?

When you hear the name “Jesus” what’s the first word that comes to your mind?





How about this…what reaction do you have when you hear the name “Jesus”?

Is it positive or negative?

Is it for him or against him?

Is it a reaction that reflects belief or unbelief?

Words matter…and words that reflect what we believe and lead us to action (or reaction) really matter.

So, how do you react to Jesus?

In the original story of Jesus’ birth, people reacted…

All who heard the shepherds wondered at what the shepherds told them. (Luke 2:18)

Jesus’ mother Mary treasured up all that was being said about her son. (Luke 2:19)

And, the shepherds praised God for all that they had heard and seen about Jesus. (Luke 2:20)

Later, the wise men searched for Jesus, and when they found him, they worshiped him. (Matthew 2:9-11)

But, not everyone reacted that way.

The birth of Jesus troubled Herod the king. (Matthew 2:3)

And, he reacted with deceit, and lies, and fear; and ultimately with a hatred that drove him to kill all the male children in Bethlehem. (Matthew 2:16)

The point is this…

The name of Jesus provokes all kinds of reactions. And, those reactions go one of two ways…

Positive or negative.

For or against.

Belief or unbelief.

This Advent season is an opportunity for you to react to Jesus.

It’s an opportunity for you to wonder (to be amazed) at who Jesus is, like the people who heard the news from the shepherds.

It’s an opportunity for you to treasure the Good News of salvation, like Mary did.

It’s an opportunity for you to praise God for the gift of his Son, Jesus Christ, like the shepherds did.

It’s an opportunity for you to search for him and worship him for the first time, like the wise men did.

Or, it’s an opportunity for you to continue living in fear and unbelief, like Herod did.

What’s your reaction to Jesus going to be this Advent season?

Advent Musings: what a new watch and a pile of Legos taught me about the gift of Jesus

I still remember the Christmas when I got my first real watch.

For some reason, I’d always wanted a watch…not the cheap digital watches you got in Happy Meals back in the 80’s, but a real analog watch.

So, it’s Christmas morning back in 1980something, and I open a gift that’s a small, square plastic container with the word “Timex” on it.

I can’t see the watch at this point, and I have no idea what “Timex” means, so I just kind of set it aside and start playing with some new Legos.

I still had no idea that the watch I’d really wanted was sitting inside that plastic container, buried under all the wrapping paper next to me.

At the time, I actually thought I had been given a useless plastic box.

Imagine waking up on Christmas morning and opening the one gift that you’ve always wanted…

Just think for a second of the feelings that you would have the moment you realize that’s what it is…





Love for the giver.

And the list goes on…

Now imagine that you open that same gift, but you have no idea that it’s the gift. What would you do?

All the feelings of excitement and joy would be replaced with feelings of…





Kind of like me and my Timex watch.

I got what I always wanted, but I let it get buried under a heap of wrapping paper, because I had no idea that there was a real analog watch inside that plastic box.

So, what does this all have to do with Advent and the Christmas season?

Jesus is the gift that we’ve always wanted.

Receiving him is the only way that we will ever find true peace and joy and hope and meaning in this broken world we live in.

But, the problem for many is that Jesus isn’t the gift they expected.

Ever since Jesus was born in an out-building in a small village instead of a palace in a large city, he’s been marginalized and misunderstood by the masses.

And so instead of remembering Jesus’ birth with feelings of excitement and joy and anticipation and gratitude, we bury the meaning of Christmas under a pile of wrapping paper.

Instead of accepting the greatest gift any of us could ever want, many in our culture today look at Jesus at Christmas time with indifference, apathy, and disappointment.

And, even for those who have already received the gift of Jesus, there is still the danger of distraction…

We can all get easily distracted by the holidays, and then forget what we’re actually supposed to be celebrating in the first place.

So, what about you?

This Advent season are you experiencing the joy of receiving the gift of Jesus and celebrating him?

Or, are you being distracted by everything else around you…

And settling for that pile of Legos?