The Anticlimacy of Christmas

Something’s wrong with me.  I’m already feeling like Christmas is anticlimactic, and it’s not even Christmas yet.  (And I’m making up words like anticlimacy).  Most people reserve melancholy for after the fact, but not me.  I like to get a jump on these sorts of things.

I suppose I’m just getting to the point in my life where the years have piled up enough to notice some things that are always true.  And for me, I always find the day after Christmas to be a bit of a letdown.  I don’t even put all that much stock in the trappings of Christmas, but there are at least 5 things I love about Christmas, and the truth is, they never pay off.  Even the good things don’t pay off.

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Beautiful Christmas Gifts

The English have the 12 days of Christmas in song.  The high churches have the 24 (ish) days of advent.  At Crave Something More, and here at Conversant Life, I’ll be writing a series called the “21 Days of CSM Christmas.”  Starting December 5 and finishing on Christmas Day, I will write once a day about all things Christmas, in the hopes that we will all continue to see Jesus as the greatest satisfaction to our soul’s deepest cravings.

Day 6:  Beautiful Christmas Gifts

We know this:  Christmas is about giving.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  Jesus was the greatest of gifts.  But God still gives gifts today.

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The Christmas Word Game

The English have the 12 days of Christmas in song.  The high churches have the 24 (ish) days of advent.  At Crave Something More, and here at Conversant Life, I’ll be writing a series called the “21 Days of CSM Christmas.”  Starting December 5 and finishing on Christmas Day, I will write once a day about all things Christmas, in the hopes that we will all continue to see Jesus as the greatest satisfaction to our soul’s deepest cravings.

Day 5:  The Christmas Word Game

What words or images do you associate with the Christmas story? Let’s make a list (here’s mine, in order, off the top of my head):

Bright star.

Dark blue sky.

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The Sacred Conspiracy of Christmas

The English have the 12 days of Christmas in song.  The high churches have the 24 (ish) days of advent.  At Crave Something More, and here at Conversant Life, I’ll be writing a series called the “21 Days of CSM Christmas.”  Starting December 5 and finishing on Christmas Day, I will write once a day about all things Christmas, in the hopes that we will all continue to see Jesus as the greatest satisfaction to our soul’s deepest cravings.

Day 4:  The Sacred Conspiracy of Christmas

Let’s be conspiracy theorists for a moment.  Say you are a guy (let’s call you Joseph), and you’re engaged to this sweet hometown girl (let’s call her Mary), and you have watched this girl for years and years and have finally mustered up the courage to ask her to be your wife.  And then she goes to visit relatives for a few months, and she comes back pregos, and you’re wondering what you should do.

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The Sign of Christmas

The English have the 12 days of Christmas in song.  The high churches have the 24 (ish) days of advent.  At Crave Something More and here at Conversant Life, I’ll be writing a series called the “21 Days of CSM Christmas.”  Starting December 5 and finishing on Christmas Day, I will write once a day about all things Christmas, in the hopes that we will all continue to see Jesus as the greatest satisfaction to our soul’s deepest cravings.

Day 3:  The Sign of Christmas

If you had to pick just one symbol or sign for Christmas, what would it be? If Google Images is of any help, then Christmas is symbolized by the Christmas tree, or bells, or snow fall against a lit home, or Santa, or ornaments, or gifts, or candy canes, or Homer Simpson on a rooftop in a Santa costume.

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Don't Just Hear...See!

Job:  “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6).

Here was the most righteous man of his day, steadfastly withstanding the condemnation of his three close and misguided friends.  These friends came to Job in his misery and waited with him in silence for seven days.  Then they began their escalating (in directness) and diminishing (in effectiveness) arguments against Job, trying to show him that wickedness produces suffering.  And Job was right to fight this argument by maintaining His innocence.  God was not bringing suffering on Job because of his wickedness.

But then Elihu came to Job, and he spoke of God’s purpose in suffering, to bring sinners to repentance.  “If they are bound in chains and caught in the cords of affliction, then he declares to them their work and their transgressions…he opens their ears to instruction and commands that they return from iniquity” (Job 36:8-10).  And Job realized that, despite his righteousness, he was still a sinner before a holy God.

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I've Decided To Pray In Church Of All Places

As I have been contemplating prayer of late, I’ve found my times of prayer to be growing in both occasion and place.  I find myself before God in prayer as I face a decision that needs to be made, or to ask Him wisdom as I read His word.  Or I find myself offering bursts of praise as I see His hand in a sunrise, or asking Him for grace when I need help with a hard conversation.  But I have also realized there is one place where I’m pretty certain to not be praying:  church.

You’d think this is all mixed up, and you would have a point.  But our church doesn’t have a specific time for congregational prayer.  We have corporate prayer, but I can just listen to a pastor pray over the service or the congregation without doing much of anything other than listening to him pray over the service or the congregation.  We also have prayer over the Word, and prayer over our singing, but again, I find it far too easy to watch rather than pray.

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The Realness of God

I have been contemplating prayer recently.  By contemplating, I mean I’ve been thinking much more about prayer than actually talking to God about prayer, which of course would be praying and might just help the whole situation.  But here I find myself, wondering why something so central to this faith we share is such a mystery.

Here’s what I do know about prayer.  It’s hard.  It’s important.  It’s much simpler than we care to make it.  And it’s far more complex than we understand.

I also know that pretty much every Christian thinks his or her prayer life isn’t all that great.  When you ask a Christian if Jesus died for their sins, they will say yes. When you ask a Christian if communion wafers are too dry, they will say yes.  And when you ask a Christian if their prayer life could be better, they will say yes.

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The Hedge Test

It has been said that the true character of a man is what he does when no one else is looking.  I might amend that to say:  the true character of a man is what his heart is inclined to do, and what he does, when no one is looking.

I realized this yesterday as I was helping my mother-in-law trim her hedge.  I’ve never trimmed a hedge before, but it didn’t look all that hard, so I volunteered.  And it wasn’t hard in a mountain-climbing, desert-crossing kind of way, but it wasn’t something I’d typically do on a relaxing vacation either.

Using old-school hedge shears and a small platform ladder, I took to the top and the side of this long, overgrown hedge, and over the course of the next hour or so, I made good progress in the 90 degree heat.  I wanted to do a good job, doing my work with excellence, making a good impression on the in-laws, and doing my work for the glory of God.  So I took special care to round the top corners and get clean lines along the sides, you know, making the hedge look like it belonged with the best of hedges.

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Convicted On Judgment Day

You might have recently heard about Harold Camping. A California-based radio broadcaster, he has made news for his end of days predictions and his influence over thousands of followers who have given to and supported his claim of the coming Judgment Day.  Camping predicted that the end of the world would be ushered in last Saturday, May 21, 2011, and that 200 million Christians would be raptured amidst global earthquakes.

Many have written in jest or condemnation or love about this topic, but what struck me most was a thought I had on Saturday morning.  Knowing that Camping’s Judgment Day had arrived, and assuming it was another false prophecy consistent with a ministry rife with false teaching, I still wondered what it would be like for Christ to return that day.  As I contemplated this Second Coming, here’s what I thought:  I’d really like to finish the house first.

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About
Chris Tomlinson is a businessman and writer who desires to see people realize the beauty and joy of knowing Jesus. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, Anna. He is the author of Crave: Wanting So Much More of God (Harvest House).


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