The Christmas season is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the smell of Christmas trees and the sounds of Christmas music. I love, even more, the time we get to spend with family and friends. But, we celebrate Christmas primarily because of a person…and his name is Jesus. He is the reason for the season!
My fear is that often we lose sight of the true reason for our celebration in the midst of a culture that celebrates everything but our Savior. Even worse, this lack of focus on Jesus has crept into the church. This should not be the case. I have put together a 25 day Christmas devotional for you to use as a tool to help focus your family’s attention on Jesus, the baby born in Bethlehem and the Savior of our souls.
This devotional should be used every day from December 1st – 25th. Each day has a specific text of Scripture that should be read, followed by some devotional thoughts. There are also questions following the devotional thoughts that can be used to help instill the truths from the text of Scripture. Finally, at the end of each week is family action plan that will help your family do some fun, practical things to help focus attention on Jesus during this season.
I have included a link to this Christmas devotional (“The Cross & The Manger”) below. Feel free to download it and send it to your friends and family. Share it on Facebook and on Twitter. Print copies and pass them out to your coworkers. I think we could all use a little help as we seek to focus on Jesus during the Christmas season!
If you have read this blog you know one of my goals for 2012 is to write more. I love to write and hope to post 3-4 times each week on this blog and write a book this year. Even though we are only a few days into the New Year, I have written more than I ever expected. Here are 5 action steps that have helped me and hopefully they will be helpful to you if you want write more effectively in 2012.
1. Make writing a priority in your schedule. If you want to write more you must make the time to do it. If you never schedule blocks of time to write you will likely never write more than you do right now. Get up early and devote 20-30 minutes to writing. Stay up after everyone else hits the sack and spend time writing. We are always able to find time to do the things that are important to us so give writing a prominent place in your schedule.
2. Keep a pen and paper with you at all times. You never know when an idea will pop into your mind and if you are not ready to capture it, you might lose it forever. I am writing this as I sit in the Emergency Room waiting for my daughter’s test results (she is fine by the way). Every day events cause you to think and putting those thoughts on paper is helpful both short-term and long-term. Be resourceful if you find yourself wanting to write but don’t have a pen and paper. When I rushed out of the house this morning with my 15 month old, I did not think about grabbing a pen and paper. So what did I do? I pulled out my Blackberry and began typing this in an email. Most phones have memo pads on them and some even have voice recorders. Use whatever means possible to capture your thoughts and ideas.
3. Write to write and not to be read. I struggle with this more than anything else. After 7 years of post college education, I have had to train myself to write without worrying about the editing process. I do edit my writing before publishing it but only after I have allowed myself to write without thinking about the editing process. My initial writing may appear choppy and disconnected but I am able to capture my thoughts thoroughly. The result is writing that is clear, passionate, and from the heart. Let the sentences flow and edit later.
4. Write about things you are interested in. One of the most difficult things to do is write about something you care nothing about. I love my family so I write about them. I love being a pastor so I write about ministry. I love reading so I write book reviews. Whatever you do, do not let writing become a chore. Write because it is fun and you enjoy doing it. Think about the things you care the most about and fill pages and pages writing about those things.
5. Write even if you don’t publish. I have spent a good amount of time writing blog posts and working on my book recently but I have also continued to write in my journal almost daily. I have been writing in my journal for several years and have no plans to publish what I write. My journal contains my most personal thoughts and it is the place where I record, with pen and paper, what God is teaching me. The process of thinking and writing makes me a better writer and it will make you a better writer as well. Write because you love to write. Then it will not matter if it is published because you will be doing what you love.