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Christmas Survival Tips

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving sausage balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It's rare.. You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-aholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again. ( This one is very important.)

8. Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. (a balanced diet IS important) When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

-- Copied from a friend

Evangelism - for the win!

Evangelism...what a crazy word!  In different religious groups it could mean anything from an occupational traveler, to soul-winning, to riding your bikes to peoples houses, to passing out tracts...but what is it really?

I checked the dictionary, and really fell in love with some of its defining words:  preaching, promulgation of the gospel, missionary zeal, purpose, activity.  I love words!  So to read words like "zeal" and "purpose" as describers gets me excited! Evangelism is a zeal for purpose...specifically the purpose of the gospel!

The Bible speaks several times on the concept of "evangelism,"  and I want to highlight a couple of those.  Matthew 28:16-20 is referenced frequently in our church circles.  Jesus commands his disciples to GO.  This action word implies that we cannot fulfill this command without movement from our current location.  MAKE DISCIPLES.  This is tricky...because my pride wants to win 20 gazillion people to Jesus in a year by just passing out a paper with a few verses or simply inviting people to church.  "Make disciples" seems to indicate that after winning someone to Jesus,  I am responsible for helping along in their Christian Journey.  TEACHING...   WOW this is a hard one!  "I'm not a teacher. I don't like talking to people.  That's the pastor's job.  I'm uncomfortable speaking to people I don't know.  etc..."  So God says, "OK, yeah, you don't like to teach so you're off the hook!"   WRRROOONNNGG!!!  It seems to me that every believer is responsible to Go, Make, AND Teach...regardless of your insecurities.  The verses we referenced above are often called "The Great Commission."  I believe the word "great" not only implies the massive scale of importance that this commission holds, but also the burden of effort it will place upon us.

Life is Journey, and Christianity is a race.  We press toward the mark FOR THE PRIZE!  In 1 Corinthians 9:24, Paul challenges the church to "run that you may obtain the prize!"  I'm getting a mental image here of an Olympic athlete and his coach.  I'm not going to begin to attempt the recreation of the dialogue through the practices, but let's just imagine the coaches last words to his runner before he steps out on the track.  I just cannot imagine a coach saying "you know what, we're just here to have fun.  You go out there, and whatever happens, happens..."  Now, I've never been an Olympic runner,  but based off the coaches TV facial expressions they are saying something to effect of "get out there, work your hardest, stay focused, push yourself to the max, and bring home the gold."    So why is it that we take that first approach to evangelism?  Why have we slipped into a culture of "just go out and be nice to everyone and that's really the best you can do?"   Laziness?  Pride?  Worry?  Fear?  I really have no idea....but I do know that God hates that sort of attitude.  Paul writes under the Holy Spirit's inspiration that we are to run to obtain the prize.

This cross-country track is short.  We have a limited amount of effective time here on this earth to fulfill this Great Commission.  I have been guilty of spending all my time "stretching and warming up" right in the middle of the course where I should be running. Today I am challenged to run for the prize.  To do this, I must keep my eyes on the finish line and not get distracted with things around me.  God please give me one more soul before the end of this year! What's evangelism?  I believe it to be a purpose driven race, run with zeal, empowered by God, ending only at eternity.

Peace In & Peace Out

God's word repeatedly emphasizes people's freedom to choose.  The decision to follow Christ was not forced upon us,  it was offered to us as a free gift - a choice.  How many times have we taken advantage of this principle, and chosen to oppose God's plan?  Try and place yourself in God's shoes for a moment.  Can you even really imagine the frustration He must have with "difficult people?"

As Americans, we love to leverage our "right to choose."  Often we use this cop-out about the time someone wants us to do something that WE don't want to do.  If you have ever been in ministry or a place of management, I can guarantee you have gone home at night steaming over "difficult people."  So, if people have a free will, and a legal right to choose, then how do we deal with difficult people?

 - Be motivated by peace.  This principle can be found in Scripture in places like Hebrews 12:14 and Romans 12:18.  The Word requires that we pursue peace will all men as much as is possible.  Hebrews reminds us that without the pursuit of peace,  no one will see the Lord.  I do not believe the author is just referencing lost people!  Often those who disrupt the peace are distant in their relationship with the Lord, making them selfish.

-  Be a servant of peace.  Have you ever known someone who just could not be at peace unless EVERYTHING was going his or her way?  We could probably describe this person as always having to be right, always having to be the center of attention, or having a flair for the dramatic.  Right now a person has popped into your brain, and you are racking your brain trying to come up with a solution to their peace problem.  Let me put your mind at ease.  YOU CAN'T!   What can you do?  You can follow the principle of Philippians 2:3-4, humble yourself, and put their best interests in mind...keeping in mind that they need Jesus.

-  Live at peace.  OK, you see the value of peace, and you're doing your dead-level best to put their best interests in mind, but they have played your good heart and sought control of your happens.  Romans 16:17 tells us to mark those who cause divisions and offenses, and Proverbs 22:3 states that a prudent man foresees evil and hides himself.  My mind goes back to the story of Joseph.  After Potiphar's wife had caused so many problems, there came a time when he just had to avoid her and hide himself.  If you are like me, you really want to "fix" the problem in someone else's heart by playing the Holy Spirit.  But, if your difficult person will not respond to reason, you just have to avoid them.  Sometimes that hurts...but if we are to live at peace, we cannot allow our lives and hearts to be manipulated by those who do not.

 -  Communicating peace isn't always vocal.  The person you have had to separate from now wants to be heard.  Some have their mind made up that their opinion and perception of you is right no matter what anyone says.  They honestly believe THEY are the victim of your actions.  Proverbs 26:4-5 warns us not to answer a fool according to his folly.  This really plays off the above principle, but friend, there does come a time when there is nothing else you can say or do.

- Find peace within.  Psalm 119:165 says it best.  "Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing shall offend them."  This passage speaks to both sides of the conflict.  To you, the one who is struggling to MAKE peace, stop and realize that YOU cannot.  Peace comes from God.  Focus your love and attention on HIM, and He will help calm the storm within you.  Often our hearts cry in desperation " I JUST CAN'T DO ANYTHING RIGHT!"  It is in that moment that we must stand still, and let God move.  He will fight our battles way more effectively than we ever could.  Stop worrying over something you cannot change.

Dear friend,  you may be the person that others are reaching out to.  Many have tried to make peace with you, many have offered great personal sacrifice just to make your life easier, yet you sit in denial as peacemakers fight to keep your relationship alive.  Maybe you have even gone so far as to turn other people against those who make peace, because as you've heard "misery loves company."  Let me remind you that GREAT peace have those who love God's law, and nothing will offend them.  Turn your focus off of YOU for a second, put everyone else's interests ahead of yours,  and watch unity in Christ miraculously take place.  Peace in, and peace out.