Top 10 Essential Apps For Christmas

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Looking for something exciting, challenging, and helpful to take you all the way to December 25th?  Look no further.

We’ve assembled our TOP 10 Essential App List for Christmas this year.  Try these out and we promise you won’t utter a single “Bah Humbug” all season!

HERE WE GO!

10. APPROACH:  You’ll never make it to the manger if you’re not willing to move.  Spend some time in prayer remembering what Christmas is all about, and then get in gear.  Even as you approach Jesus, Jesus is approaching you.

9. APPREHENSIVE:  This is not a relaxing weekend in Branson.  It’s a life-changing adventure filled with risks, unknowns, and even a little uncertainty.  Hearing the Christmas story should shake you up a little. It’s a good thing to be a little apprehensive.

8. APPETITE:  Cookies and Presents can bring great joy.  They can also bring gluttony and greed!  Be intentional about what you should be craving.  Love, Peace, Hope, and Joy are present in abundance.  Here’s to having a healthy appetite.

7 APPRECIATE.  The sky on Christmas Eve always inspires me, if I remember to look up.  Being with my relatives is fun, if I have the right attitude.  The Miracle of Jesus gives me chills, if I truly listen to the stories.  There’s so much going on that you might miss the whole point of Christmas, unless you focus your heart to appreciate the heart of it.

6. APPRENTICE:  We celebrate two Christmases each year, the cultural one and the Christian one.  Both can be fun and exciting, but it is the Christian experience of Jesus’ birth that can nourish us our whole lives long.  There are young people (and some older ones too) who may only learn this version of the story if you apprentice them.

5.  APPROXIMATELY.   Don’t worship a well-wrapped present or a beautifully set table, when the sole source of perfection is cooing from the manger.  As for everything else?  Approximately good is good enough.

4. APPLAUD.   Children’s programs at church.  Concerts around town.  Carolers at your front door.  Joy is contagious, and the hard work of those who step up front to share their offering can ignite in us a passion we might otherwise have been missing.  Find reasons to applaud this year, especially for the Greatest Story Ever Told.

3.  APPROVE.  What if you gave Christmas five stars on Yelp and shared an amazing review with everyone you know? Christmas doesn’t require your approval, but the Good News spreads all the faster when you make your two-thumbs-up shown.

2.  APPEAR.  The incarnation, Emmanuel, God with us, is more amazing than a magic trick. Don’t look away, and don’t minimize the Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.

1.  APPLY.  What are some of the most important life lessons you’ve learned from Christmas?  The joy of giving.  Peace on Earth, good will to all.  Go, tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere!  Christmas is supposed to change us, to inspire us all year round.  How will you apply what you’ve learned?

There you have it!  Our Top 10 APPS for Christmas.  Keep in mind — just because they’re free, doesn’t mean they’re not high quality.  Best of all, I’m allowed to offer them right here!

Who needs an actual APP store?

Well, Apple might be appalled to see this page approvingly appreciated.

Have a Great Week,

Mitch

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Good Christian Martians, Rejoice!

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After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” –Matthew 2:1-2

I’ve been listening to a trilogy of sci-fi audiobooks, not at all religious.  Something like 50 hours of material, and most of it has been really good.  But the other day, with about 90 minutes left in the trilogy, suddenly a spaceship shows up riding behind a comet, and the occupants of this spaceship?  The Magi.

Yeah! The Magi, the wise men from the East.  Apparently they are aliens who show up every so often for special events, like the birth of Jesus.  Honestly, it was a strange thing to throw in to this series, but I’m intrigued to see how the last hour and a half goes.

The other reason I’m intrigued is because of some pretty explosive news out of the Pentagon.  Did you hear? For the first time in decades, they let us know that they’ve been secretly investigating UFOs.  What’s more, they released footage of a fighter pilot intercepting a UFO in 2004.  They have no explanation for what it was, and supposedly along the way they’ve recovered materials from these crafts that have “amazing properties”.  You can read about it here.  UFOs?

I’m gonna be honest with you.  I think this is a big deal.  I’ve always kind of had one eye to the skies, wondering if we’re alone or not, but this is The Pentagon releasing this information.  This isn’t some quack making up stuff on the internet. Time will only tell what else gets revealed.

So, back to The Magi.  Could these astrologers have literally been from out of this world?  Could the star that guided them have been some ship, pointing the way?  Well…I can find you a couple dozen websites that say exactly that, but everyone of them sounds written by a crackpot.  Search for yourself if you want to go down that rabbit hole.

As for me, I have no answer to that question, but it raises the one I really want to ask:  Is Jesus the Savior of the Earth, or the Savior of the Universe?

You know?  Baby Jesus, who we’re in process of adoring — does he have “street cred” on a street in, say Alpha Centauri? I mean, there’s a whole lot of space out in…Space.  When we say Jesus is Lord of All, do we really mean ALL?  Or is he limited to Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Humans?

During the span of time when the texts of the Bible were written down, there was very little known about “Out There”.  Today, we know a lot more, but still with so much left to learn.  The notion of “Little Green Men” is still comical to us, although we continue to find planet after planet capable of supporting life.  It may only be a matter of time until intelligent life in other places becomes known to us.

When that happens, we may discover they know God through Jesus, or in an entirely different way.  Or not at all. Regardless, I’ll be ready to share the Joy of Christmas with anyone who has ears to hear about it.  (Or if they don’t have ears, I’ll use sign language or something.)

You know, if I’m willing to do that with Alpha Centaurians, shouldn’t I be willing to do that with fellow Earthlings?

You don’t have to be a Magi, or an alien, or a shepherd or an angel or a spacecraft, or a star, to be able to point the way to the manger, my Good Christian Friend.  It’s as simple as this:

When someone says “Take Me To Your Leader”…

Take em.

Merry Christmas,

Mitch

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Christmas Stinks (And I’m glad)

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PRESENTING:

The Yankee Candle Christmas Eve Edition.

Unfortunately, my monitor isn’t scratch and sniff, so I can’t absorb the scent personally.

But it looks like it would be delightful.

One reviewer described the scent like this:

First bought this scent over 20 years ago, and it is our Christmas family favorite. Reminds me of Christmas Eve at church with the scents of the newly decorated trees, and candles burning as you walk into the dimly lit building..a mild scent of sugared plum, with the essence of vanilla…perfect for setting that Christmas Eve ambiance in any room!

It’s enough to make you nostalgic for Christmas Eves gone by.

Except the first one.

The first one didn’t smell like that.  No sugared plums.  No pine trees.

Nope, if they ever made an authentic Yankee Candle scent for the first Christmas Eve it might look like this:

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And don’t get me started on the lovely scent of unwashed Shepherds!

No, years and years before Christmas became an annual tradition, before the whole notion of the Savior’s birth became sanitized and mass-produced, Christmas was in all likelihood a stinky mess!

That’s helpful for me to remember.  Jesus was not born into a sterile environment, under ideal conditions.

No, God chose to come to Earth where there was POOP present!

Poop, and blood, and smelly hay, and smelly animals, and even smellier shepherds.

Christ’s birth was visceral.  Primitive, even.  Organic.

The very earthiness of that first Christmas Eve should inspire us.  Challenge us.

God did not separate God’s self from God’s creation.  Not in the least.

From Jesus’ first breath and first cry, he was immersed in the world.  The beautiful parts, and the stinky parts.

And as anyone who’s lived a full life can attest…

One does not rule out the other.

Merry Christmas!

Mitch

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BABY STEPS

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Proverb 16:9 says,  “The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps.”

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LET US PRAY:

FIRST STEP:
Dear God, please help [this thing] to happen.

SECOND STEP:
(a):  Thank you for it happening!
or  (b): It didn’t happen.  You must have your reasons.

Ever pray like this?   You lift up a prayer, and if it’s answered you praise God.

And if it isn’t answered, you praise God anyway.

Well, now, in some ways that sounds pretty good.

I mean, on the one hand, there’s something nice and neat about this kind of prayer.

No matter the outcome, your faith remains unassailed.

God is still in charge.

It feels safe to pray like this, I know, but something is missing:

Human Agency.

Remember?  God allows things to happen.

Allows us to happen, live without a net.

God is like a parent, guiding an infant taking their first steps.

We still may fall, as we make choices and learn and grow, but we’re never alone.

When you find yourself praying for something to happen in your life,

don’t forget that some of the most important steps,

however timid,

may be yours.

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Have a great week,

Mitch

Fra-gee-lay.

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Once again this year, TBS is running back to back showings of “A Christmas Story” all the way from 8pm on Christmas Eve until 8pm on Christmas Night.

I love that movie.

I think my favorite part is when the father gets his “major award” in the great big box.  He reads the word “fragile”, stamped across the front, as if it were something exotic, written in Italian.

“Frageelay”, he exclaims in awe, forever changing the way I pronounce that word.

Indeed, as gifts go it was pretty exotic and pretty fragile. It was, of course, the infamous leg lamp.

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It looked glorious, shining there in the living room.

When I think of fragile things, I’m reminded of another Christmas story.  The first one.

The first Christmas gift was fragile, too.

Two fragile little legs (not just one).

Two arms, two hands.  Eyes and nose.  Hands and feet.

Tiny, vulnerable.  Frageelay.

Strange, isn’t it?  God sends a savior who is so tiny and weak.  Barely able to lift his head up.

The Son of God, come to save us, yet so easily broken.

Why? Why send such a fragile gift?

Well, there is a certain kind of excitement and gentleness that comes with fragile things.

A reminder to handle with care.

In the movie “A Christmas Story”, the lamp was eventually broken, shining no more.

As for the real Christmas story?

It turns out that Jesus was, indeed, fragile.

He was broken for us

But MERRY CHRISTMAS friends,

because the light of Christ shines FOREVER!

Merry Christmas,

Mitch

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A Very He-Man Christmas

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Why are we so obsessed with cute cuddly little baby Jesus?

Don’t get me wrong.  I love the little guy, asleep on the hay.

But what about grown up, powerful Jesus? Isn’t Christmas about him, too?

You know, Jesus who changed the world at the age of thirty.

Wielder of Truth.  Master of the Universe!

Speaking of…

Do you remember He-Man?

I was 13 in the 1983, the year that “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” debuted on TV.

I wasn’t particularly interested.

In part, it’s because I was getting too old for Saturday morning cartoons, but there was another reason:

He-Man was a big ole’ macho sword wielding barbarian, and I didn’t want to be part of a universe that had someone like that as its master.

But maybe I was wrong.

I mean, can you imagine Christmas if we sang “Oh Come Oh Come HE-MANuel?

Now there’s a laugh! But it would change the complexion of the season, to be sure.

Instead of candlelight, we’d aim spotlights in the night sky, cheering and stomping, waiting for him to appear.

Forget the cute and cuddly baby in the manger, we’d be ready for battle against the forces of evil.

And no more gentle “Silent Night” songs.  We’d be singing loud rock ballads with all the passion we could summon.

Christmas would be a loud and proud celebration of our hero: The man, the miracle, JC!!!

What do you think?

Okay, Jesus as He-Man might be a little too much testosterone.  A little too much “Defender of the Faith” and not enough “Prince Of Peace”.

But somewhere between the gentle baby and the action hero lies the Jesus I want to honor this Christmas.

The one who stood up for the hopeless and fought injustice and did it all not with a sword, but with a love stronger than any other force in the universe.

This year, on Christmas Eve, I hope to remember…

It’s not just a baby shower,

It’s the original hour of power.

Have a great week,

Mitchjpwr004