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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Is It Okay To Be Content?

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12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.  –Philippians 4:12-13

I had one thing on my list yesterday afternoon. I had a precious 5 hours set aside to relax and be content.

And I just couldn’t do it.

There were too many big pressing issues taking up space in my brain.  Not enough professions of faith at my church this year. The future of my denomination. The constant creep of scary political times.  The busy week ahead.

Not only did I feel plagued by these issues and more, I started feeling like it would be irresponsible to push them aside.  There are, for me, some pretty serious issues on that list.  Big problems.  Disturbances in the Force.  Valid reasons for feeling discontent.

Maybe it was wrong for me to want to be content in the first place.  To take a big sigh and forget my problems for a while.  Maybe that was a mistake.

Maybe my role as a disciple is to carry my cross, shoulder my burdens, keeping my eyes on the prize of the Kingdom come.  As long as things are broken in this world, my job is to be discontent.  Or even a malcontent–fighting the man, even if that turns out to be me.

So, no bingeing on Netflix.  No Burger King Impossible Burger.  No Lazy Boy Recliner.  And NO peace of mind.

That is the dangerous path my brain was headed down.  So many Christians have chosen to live that way .  I didn’t fully rest.  I couldn’t relax.  I went to bed exhausted.

Today, I read the scripture above, from Philippians, where Paul talks about being content.  He has figured out the secret–so much so that he can feel at peace when life is producing either a bounty or a scarcity.

The key, it seems, is what gives you contentment.  Paul finds peace in good times and bad.  There is no earthly item on his list that can sway him–because his strength comes from God.  His ongoing connection with God is the most real thing in his life, and holding tightly to that allows him to be content, even when things on earth feel dicey.

I happen to know several times where Paul declares himself to be distressed, so it’s not like he’s unaffected by the problems he’s up against.  It must be that the hope and joy of a life in God simply matters more.

I wish I could go back and live those 5 hours of downtime over again.  I would have leaned on God more.  I would have rested in the sure and certain knowledge that God wants more for me than to fret without ceasing.  Perhaps praying without ceasing would have framed things better.

That kind of bingeing…

is even better than Netflix.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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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

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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.

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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 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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