Christmas is for adults, too.

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Everybody always says, “Christmas is for Children.”

Been there, done that.  It was great.

However…

I’d like to raise a few points on behalf of those who find themselves with a few gray hairs.  Or a lot of them.

Christmas is no less magical or profound or sweet or challenging now than it was when we were whippersnappers.

In fact, it may even be better.

Let’s talk about Hope:  I must confess I’ve done my time on the Island of Misfit Toys.  Feeling broken. Not sure where I belonged. But I’ve learned that everyone gets broken.  Everyone feels like a misfit from time to time.  It is the coming of Christ that gives our lives meaning and purpose.  Now I know what it really means to have HOPE!

Let’s talk about Love:  I’ve learned that there is no perfect present underneath the tree.  Hard as we might try, we can’t fit love in a box.  There’s only one gift that truly satisfies to that extent.  It is the gift that God gave to us, so that we might pass it on.  Now I know what it really means to have (and give) LOVE!

Let’s talk about Peace:  Every year I find myself saying, “has the world ever been this bad?”  My attentiveness to the suffering around me has developed, but so has my faith and resolve.  I believe there is no turmoil that the Prince of Peace cannot transform, and I want to help.  Now I know how to look for signs of PEACE!

Let’s talk about Joy:  Whereas once a gadget or a toy would make me giddy, now joy strikes me much more deeply. It is in the presence of family and friends.  In witnessing simple acts of grace.  In the Christmas story.  More than just the excitement of a season, I am reminded of what God With Us truly means both now, and the whole year round.  Now I know the ongoing thrill of JOY!

Oh, I’d never take back all those wondrous Christmases I spent as a child.

But I’m surprised to report that the Christmas miracle keeps on getting clearer,

…even as I keep getting grayer.

Merry Christmas.

Mitch

crimbo

originally published 12/14, revised 12/18

Sunday, 12/16/18 2-4pm at Jane’s Landing Coffee Shop in Mulvane KS — BOOKSIGNING PARTY!  Come drop by!

MY NEW BOOK!  A collection of my favorite devotions from over the years, complete with study questions.  Perfect for individual reflection or group discussion.  Get yours today!

barefoot.: devotions & discussions by Rev. Mitch Todd Paperback

 

Are you ready for bed?

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“Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” –Ephesians 4:26b

Great line of scripture. I wonder: What if the whole world did this?  We could all be mad at each other during the day, hurling rocks and insults and such, but as soon as the sun sets…we’re cool as cucumbers.

The human race would have somehow learned to let go of their anger each night, and instead, we’d all gather in the streets, reconciling with our enemies, dancing in the joy of release.

I wonder–come morning, would we pick up where we let off?  Hurtful remarks over Raisin Bran? Nations at war with nations?  Facebook posts pointing fingers every which way?  Can you say, “Outrage du jour?”

Or would a night of peace change our minds?  Would conflict seem less palatable in the light of the day?  Once you have seen your adversary in the gentle moonlight, would it be harder to hate them under sunny skies?

Maybe anger would just fizzle away.  We’d learn we just didn’t need it.  We wouldn’t need the road rage, the jealous fits, the political diatribes.  We might need to hold on to a little righteous anger, just for those times when gross injustice warrants it. But even the anger we might tend to direct at ourselves would lose its power.

Now, I’m sure there would be quite a lot of resistance if I were to suggest that anger can be eliminated from the human makeup.  These emotions come from the more primitive parts of our brains, and they’re hard wired into us.  We will likely have to face anger again and again. However, it really is possible for us to reduce the grip anger has on us.

Prayer.  Meditation.  A good therapist.  A long walk.  Medication, even.  These are just a few things humans do that reduces anger.  Want more examples?  Journaling.  Breathing. Creativity.  Forgiveness.  Listening.  Sharing.  Serving.  A long, hot shower (my personal favorite), and yes, counting to 10.

The anger some folks carry is a very heavy weight.  Maybe not something you can fully “deal with” between brushing your teeth and putting your slippers on. But as you get ready for bed tonight, remember that God offers a plethora of ways to help at least lighten your load of anger.  Try some of them.

And if your new bedtime ritual works, and the peace of Christ comes upon you, you may even feel the urge to run out into the street, to celebrate.

God willing,

the rest of us will be there too.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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SUIT UP

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Ready?  Let’s Suit up!

*CLOMP THUD CLOMP THUD*

I apologize for the racket.

I’m making a little more noise than usual as I walk around today.

Typically, I’ll just wear regular clothes, but today, I feel the need…

for the Armor of God.

Know what I’m talking about?  Read it here from Ephesians.

Therefore put on the full armor of God,so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  Ephesians 6:13-17

Yep.  So I’ve got my great big Belt of Truth on.  It’s got a gigantic buckle with a dove on it.  Very disco, if you ask me.

And I’ve got a big ole breastplate of Righteousness. (With a giant “R” on it, of course)

Next, I’ve got some huge clunking gospel boots for some all-terrain Peace making.

Oh, and don’t forget my shield.  I’ve never actually tried to intercept a flaming arrow before, but I can attest that this shield of Faith is heavy duty.

Then I’ve got my classy helmet of Salvation, decorated in rhinestones and cubic zirconia.

And last but not least, my sword of the Spirit.  It’s not really very sharp, but it gleams a brilliant white light.

Whew.

Do you know how many thrift stores and Renaissance festivals I had to go to get all this stuff?

To be honest, it’s hard for me to even type out this devotion, with all the gear I’m carrying today.

Actually, I seem to be chafing a little bit.

And I’m quite hot.

Hang on…

Upon further reading, I think this passage is supposed to be a metaphor.

In other words, we can carry Truth, Peace, Righteousness, Faith and Spirit with us, all with no hindrance.

Just because the Armor of God isn’t made out of metal, that doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Each morning when you get dressed, it can be a part of your wardrobe.

Can you imagine the benefits?

All you have to do is pay attention to what you’re putting on.

Ready?

Let’s SUIT UP!

Have a great week,

Mitch

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Christmas is for adults, too.

instagram-2

Everybody always says, “Christmas is for Children.”

Been there, done that.  It was great.

However…

I’d like to raise a few points on behalf of those who find themselves with a few gray hairs.  Or a lot of them.

Christmas is no less magical or profound or sweet or challenging now than it was when we were whippersnappers.

In fact, it may even be better.

Let’s talk about Hope:  I must confess I’ve done my time on the Island of Misfit Toys.  Feeling broken. Not sure where I belonged. But I’ve learned that everyone gets broken.  Everyone feels like a misfit from time to time.  It is the coming of Christ that gives our lives meaning and purpose.  Now I know what it really means to have HOPE!

Let’s talk about Love:  I’ve learned that there is no perfect present underneath the tree.  Hard as we might try, we can’t fit love in a box.  There’s only one gift that truly satisfies to that extent.  It is the gift that God gave to us, so that we might pass it on.  Now I know what it really means to have (and give) LOVE!

Let’s talk about Peace:  Every year I find myself saying, “has the world ever been this bad?”  My attentiveness to the suffering around me has developed, but so has my faith and resolve.  I believe there is no turmoil that the Prince of Peace cannot transform, and I want to help.  Now I know how to look for signs of PEACE!

Let’s talk about Joy:  Whereas once a gadget or a toy would make me giddy, now joy strikes me much more deeply. It is in the presence of family and friends.  In witnessing simple acts of grace.  In the Christmas story.  More than just the excitement of a season, I am reminded of what God With Us truly means both now, and the whole year round.  Now I know the ongoing thrill of JOY!

Oh, I’d never take back those wondrous years of Christmases past.

But that wonder has never left, if we know where to look!

It’s in any heart that embraces the HOPE, LOVE, PEACE, and JOY of Christmas…

and never lets go.

Merry Christmas.

Mitch

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Siolence.


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It’s 5:05am.

The room is dark, except for the tiny dot of light from the lamppost outside my window.

My wife breathes quietly beside me, and off in a distant room I hear a low hum.  Probably the refrigerator.

Other than that, everything is still.

The world is asleep, mostly.

I should be too, for another hour or two, but the calm and quiet around me has captured my attention.

Funny, how peaceful things are outside,

because meanwhile… inside?

IT’S A CIRCUS.  A CROWDED DEPARTMENT STORE.  AN AIRPORT TERMINAL.

MY OWN HEAD IS LIKE AN ALARM CLOCK WITH A BROKEN SNOOZE BUTTON!

My “things to do today” list flashes past me like the crawl on the bottom of a 24 hour news station.

Highlights (and lowlights) from yesterday rattle around my brain.

It’s not just my brain making noise.

My heart seems to have woken up early, too. Worries and fears explode like water balloons filled with angst instead of water.

And is that my own voice I hear shouting at me with ideas and strategies and lists and details?

I guess it is.

Why am I doing this to myself?

Although you wouldn’t know it if you were standing in the corner of my room, there’s a complete racket going on inside my not-so-sleepy head.

i hate when this happens.

When the world presents me with silence…

and my own mind responds with violence.

I’m not alone in this, am I?

Insomniacs, workaholics, worriers, and folks like me who just have a busy week ahead may all be able to relate to the sensation of Siolence:

Silence on the outside, violence on the inside.

You know, the world seems to so seldom give us an opportunity for peace, it’s a shame to miss even one.

Actually, God is the one who prescribed Sabbath time. It’s meant to be a regular part of our lives – an opportunity to cease from all of our busyness, inside and out.

No violence. Just silence.

. . . . .

It’s 6:52am now.

Instead of just stewing in my own personal edition of CNN, I got up and made some coffee. I prayed. I wrote this devotion.

It turns out I didn’t have to face this Siolence lying down (literally).

Just like Jesus, getting up early in the morning and going off by himself to pray, I accepted this invitation to silence and welcomed the peace of Christ into this brand-new day.

This beautiful day.

Whatever comes, I’m ready to embrace it…

(including, I hope, a half an hour nap at some point.)

Have a great week,

Mitch

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4 Peacemaking Techniques THAT DON’T WORK.

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There are those rare magical people out there…

They seem to radiate calm, and generate hope, and leave people around them generally better than they found them.

And then there’s the rest of us.  🙂

Most of us would like to be Peacemakers .  In fact, most of us try, with various levels of success.

Problem is, we sometimes shoot ourselves in the foot by trying the wrong things.

And so, without further ado…

Here are four examples of peacemaking techniques that don’t work. 

#1. PEACE BY FORCE

Every parent knows this:  Yelling at your kids for peace and quiet may generate some quiet, but it doesn’t truly create peace.

You can’t make anybody do or feel something they’re not willing to do or feel.

When Jesus said “Blessed are the peacemakers”, he didn’t mean people who tried to force peace down other people’s throats.

INSTEAD:  Don’t force it,  create it!  Being a peacemaker means creating an environment of peace that emanates from within.

#2. Peace FAKING

Some groups, especially families, learn to tip toe around each other rather than talk.  People learn to push down their emotions rather than dealing with them.

It’s a little like being co-dependent.  People pretend — even alter their behavior — to keep a false sense of harmony.

It doesn’t work! When people push down or fake emotions too long, they will explode.

INSTEAD: There’s a difference between faking peace and seeking it.  Perfect peace may be a rare thing to achieve, but being authentic and intentional will take you far.

#3. Denying Peace

Some people grew up in chaotic environments.  Lots of conflict, maybe abuse and pain.  Others lose their way as they grow older and find themselves living in constant turmoil.

When that happens, it’s easy to think peace is an illusion, never attainable.  Or you might think you don’t deserve it.  And so you throw yourself to the mercy of the storms of life, trying to be at “peace” with the idea of having no peace.

If you feel this way, I need you to know something:  Christ’s love and peace are meant for you as much as any other person on the planet.

INSTEAD:  Believing that you (even you) are worthy of God’s love is a big step.  And maybe not an easy one to take alone.  You might talk to a pastor or a counselor.  You can have peace in your time.  It’s an important goal to work towards.

#4. Peace Through Distance

Your family is in St. Louis.  You moved to Kansas City.  Why?

To get away from the chaos!  Maybe the family you grew up with drove you crazy.  Fighting, conflict, a lack of trust, etc.

So you head to another town, another state.  Somewhere far away where the craziness can’t touch you.   Peace through distance.

This doesn’t work either.  Oh sure, you may not have to see these people, or talk to them every day, but chances are they haunt you.  You hear your dad’s voice in the back of your head telling you you’re irresponsible.  You feel all the emotions of a fight with your sister even though you’re just fighting with yourself.

INSTEAD:  Distance doesn’t bring peace, but you know what does?  Learning to be together but separate.  It’s finding that healthy balance where you retain your own soul, but are willing to engage with others.  You’ll probably never resolve all those issues, but you may learn to find peace on your own terms.

The Real Deal

The apostle Paul says it so well in Romans 12:18:  “If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

In other words, with the grace of God through Christ, you can be in charge of making your own peace.  And when the situation allows it, you can share peace with others.

When he says it like that, it seems so easy.

I don’t know about you, but I want the real deal.  Not some imperfect facsimile of peace.

I want the kind of peace that passeth understanding…

But I’ll admit I’m still trying to understand

exactly what that looks like.  🙂

peacebwithu

Have a good week,

Mitch

P.S. I put out spiritual art every day via http://AdventureChristianity.com.  Subscribe there to receive them in your email, or click the Facebook link and add them to your feed.

The REAL War on Christmas

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The REAL War on Christmas

is not “Happy Holidays”

or Best Buy.

It’s not Muslims, or Jews, or Atheists, or Lazy Believers.

It’s not the end of Christendom, or Democrats in office.

It’s not the Tea Party, or the Office Party,

or Santa, or Hollywood, or Amazon.com.

The REAL War on Christmas

is the war that happens ON Jesus’ birthday,

which might have occurred on December 25th,

or perhaps TODAY.

It’s every war being fought right now.

with real toy soldiers,

and real toy guns,

It must break God’s heart.

Doesn’t it break yours?

Well then…

Pray for Peace this Christmas.

It’s the perfect gift

for an innocent child…

and the savior of the world.

PrayforPeace

Have a great week,

Mitch