Happy New year everyone!
The holidays are now over. The college bowl season has ended (save one fairly meaningful game), the Christmas lights have come down and the tree has been packed away for another year. Depressing, isn’t it? In one sense, yes, I’m a little bummed out that Christmas has passed. Oh, how I enjoy vicariously living out the beaming joy of my children’s almost unbearable anticipation of gift-exchanging bounty. Especially when video games are involved! Yes, I’m one of those parents who enjoy the children’s presents as much as they do. This year we bought a Nintendo Wii as a family gift, and it has been very well received. It’s quite an impressive little machine with lots of uses, aside from games. I can browse the internet and behold my blog in all its glory on a 32 inch LCD screen! Cool! And I must add, Super Mario Galaxy is the single best video game I have played since the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Just a ton of fun! Christmas is a wonderful time of year.
I work at a university, therefore I get nearly two weeks off. I have spent that time enjoying my children and catching up on my reading. My favorite memory this year is when I read the story of Christ’s birth to my children as we gathered to celebrate Christmas at my mom’s house.
On the flip side, the holidays can become quite stressful and a true test of faith. We celebrate Christmas at four different locations over a span of three days. It can be exhausting, and burdensome. Every year is a battle against materialism. The amount of presents the kids receive is just plain ridiculous. For example, last summer we discovered several toys in our youngest son’s closet that had never been taken out of the box. He never remembered even opening them on Christmas. I understand grandparents like to spoil their grandchildren but this has gotten out of hand. It was worse a few years ago when all of the kids were very young. I stacked all of the children’s toys against the entryway wall and recalled how it resembled a display on a Toys R’ Us aisle. It nearly reached the ceiling!
This much Christmas booty creates a chaotic atmosphere of clutter around our home that drives my wife bonkers! It stresses her out to repeatedly pick up the strewn remains of a cheaply manufactured Polly Pocket ‘Race to the Mall’ track or all the swords, ladders and horses from my son’s latest and greatest castle playset. The kids’ rooms are so packed full of junk that many of their newest toys end up scattered throughout the living room, kitchen and dining room. As a result we all get stressed out and no one is happy. It’s the cycle of my life and continues on unchecked. I feel powerless to put a stop to it. I’m ashamed to admit it, but our household serves as the perfect illustration with all that’s wrong with Christmas today. That just shouldn’t be so in a home where Christ is Lord. The path of the pilgrim is rarely smooth and easy. That’s why I enjoyed telling the Christmas story (and no, I’m not referring to the one about the Red Ryder BB gun). As I related to my children, we give gifts to one another in honor and remembrance of the greatest gift God has given to a fallen world; His Son, Jesus Christ.
Christmas is also a disruption of routine for me and that can be unnerving. My normal patterns of reading, studying and blogging are obliterated over the break. That’s why I haven’t posted anything in over two weeks. Going back to work is no great thrill, but a return to normalcy is.
I have a personal conviction that Christmas should be about receiving the necessities of life. And I count five that no man should be without.
Communion with God. Time alone with God is as precious as gold around my house.
Fellowship with family. I love spending quality time with my wife and kids.
Food. And lots of it!
Clothes. Not much fun but always needed.
Books. No Christmas is complete without a pile of new books to read and digest. God blessed me with several new volumes this Christmas and I have been helping myself to generous servings everyday since.
Here is what I received this year:
- Putting Amazing Back into Grace by Michael Horton. An excellent primer (so far) on the doctrines of Grace.
- Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen. Oh boy, do I need this one!
- Foundations of Grace: A long Line of Godly Men by Steve Lawson. A systematic survey on how every bible author and book teaches the doctrines of Grace.
- Martin Luther: His Life and Thought by Stephen Nichols. Kinda self explanatory.
- The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World by Stephen Nichols. Again the title pretty much sums it all up.
- The Sovereignty of God by AW Pink. A Christian classic on God’s supreme power and authority over all people, places and things.
- A thinline leather-bound ESV bible. Finally, I can quit lugging around my hardback copy of The Reformation Study Bible!
I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I’m looking forward to another year of growing in grace and blogging about it to the glory of God. I have much to talk about, so expect a flurry of posts in the coming days, God willing.